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by Beverly Connor
Onyx, February 2007
400 pages
ISBN: 0451412346

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Diane Fallon, director of the Rosewood (Georgia) museum is awakened from sleep by an explosion on a winter's night. During the evacuation of her neighborhood, a young man with a gun tries to car-jack her, but is foiled.

Apparently a meths lab in the basement of the house which had been home to many college students has blown up. Diane, head of the Rosewood Crime Lab and a forensic anthropologist, and her team get to work to try to figure out how many young people have died. There had been a party going on in the house that night.

Fallon also has to keep the museum staff in order. A department head is browbeating Juliet Price, a museum employee. Apparently, some valuable material is missing and Juliet had access to it. Fallon discovers that small items are missing in many departments and sends the department head for retraining while trying to find out why Juliet is so reclusive.

The two investigations proceed. Why is the chief arson investigator contaminating and stealing evidence from the forensic team? What caused the explosion in the first place and how fast can Diane and her team identify the 30 young people who died that night? What has caused Juliet Price to turn in on herself and be so frightened?

If one can get over the fact that crime labs all over the country are so overworked that it can be six months or longer before material can be processed, the Diane Fallon forensic series, of which DEAD PAST is the most recent entry, is a good indication of what, under ideal conditions, a good forensic lab can do. The series also targets small town politics and the even more circumscribed politics of a local museum. The characters are engaging as is the milieu.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, January 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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