*No Major Spoilers*
The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist chronicles how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system–a relic of the Jim Crow era–failed to deliver justice for its citizens and recounts the horrifying story of the two men who built successful careers on the back of this system. For nearly two decades, medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. Michael West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.
Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, and raise sobering questions about our criminal justice system’s ability to address them.
When I first read the description for this nonfiction novel, I assumed it was going to be discussing how a doctor and a dentist conned the justice system. This goes way deeper than just a couple of crooked medical professionals being paid to lie about results and give false testimony. It goes as far as proving that all forensic sciences may not be exactly as though they seem.
With my initial intrigue of this novel as I read, it became much, much more interesting. It gave me quite the insight into some of the past history of forensics and how easily it can be botched, mishandled and or abused. This novel has piqued my interest and has made me even more curious about forensics and it has also inspired me to look into going to school for Criminal Justice.
This book is an excellent read for anyone into criminal justice, forensics or the sciences of anything related to criminal justice. I really did enjoy it and was surprised by the information in this book, I wasn’t expecting it to go as deep as it did.