All that Remains
A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes
- 360 Pages
- March 5, 2019
- ISBN: 9781948924290
Book of the Year, 2018 Saltire Literary Awards
A CrimeReads Best True Crime Book of the Month
For fans of Caitlin Doughty, Mary Roach, and CSI shows, a renowned forensic scientist on death and mortality.
Dame Sue Black is an internationally renowned forensic anthropologist and human anatomist. She has lived her life eye to eye with the Grim Reaper, and she writes vividly about it in this book, which is part primer on the basics of identifying human remains, part frank memoir of a woman whose first paying job as a schoolgirl was to apprentice in a butcher shop, and part no-nonsense but deeply humane introduction to the reality of death in our lives. It is a treat for CSI junkies, murder mystery and thriller readers, and anyone seeking a clear-eyed guide to a subject that touches us all.
Cutting through hype, romanticism, and cliché, she recounts her first dissection; her own first acquaintance with a loved one’s death; the mortal remains in her lab and at burial sites as well as scenes of violence, murder, and criminal dismemberment; and about investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident, or natural disaster, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. She uses key cases to reveal how forensic science has developed and what her work has taught her about human nature.
Acclaimed by bestselling crime writers and fellow scientists alike, All That Remains is neither sad nor macabre. While Professor Black tells of tragedy, she also infuses her stories with a wicked sense of humor and much common sense.
A CrimeReads Best True Crime Book of the Month
"With a disarming frankness . . . a multipronged approach to the topic of death, exploring it through scientific, sociological, historical, and philosophical lenses. . . . This is a perceptive study of a subject both deeply uncomfortable and uncommonly engrossing."—Publishers Weekly
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“Essential . . . an insightful, compelling, and often entertaining memoir about a life spent studying and reckoning with the dead and their secrets.”—CrimeReads, “The Best True-Crime Books of the Month”
"Dame Sue Black writes about life and death with great tenderness but no nonsense, with impeccable science lucidly explained, and with moral depths humanely navigated, so that we can all feel better about the path we must all inevitably follow."—Lee Child
"All That Remains provides a fascinating look at death—its causes, our attitudes toward it, the forensic scientist's way of analyzing it. A unique and thoroughly engaging book. "—Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestselling author
"No scientist communicates better than Professor Sue Black. All That Remains is a unique blend of memoir and monograph that admits us into the remarkable world of forensic anthropology. "—Val McDermid, award-winning and bestselling author
"Most of us are terrified of death, but Sue Black shows us that death is in fact a wondrous process, intimately tied with life itself. Written with warmth and humanity, All That Remains reveals her life among the dead, who can surely count her as their best friend."—Tess Gerritsen, internationally bestselling author
“This is one of those books that’ll astound as it entertains. It’s a little shivery and oh-so-fascinating. And in the end, All that Remains is a tale you can live with.”—Marco Eagle (part of the USA Today network)
"This fascinating look by a world-leading forensic scientist at what the dead can tell us is a real eye-opener. . . . Part meditation, part popular science, and part memoir . . . the book offers a close-up and startlingly clear view of a subject that makes most of us look away. . . . Extraordinary."—Sunday Times
"An engrossing memoir . . . an affecting mix of the personal and professional."—Financial Times
"A model of how to write about the effect of human evil without losing either objectivity or sensitivity. . . . Heartening and anything but morbid . . . Leaves you thinking about what kind of human qualities you value, what kinds of people you actually want to be with."—New Statesman
"Black’s utterly gripping account of her life and career as a professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology manages to be surprisingly life-affirming. As she herself says, it is ‘as much about life as about death.’"—Guardian
"The real thing here is not the cause of death, but the nature of the life. Black is genuinely moving about the respect we should have for the dead … There is much to admire in this book." —Scotsman
"For someone whose job is identifying corpses, Sue Black is a cheerful soul. . . . All That Remains feels like every episode of Silent Witness, pre-fictionalized. Except, you know, really good."—The Times
"Poignant and thought-provoking . . . It is the book’s humanity which will connect with readers." —Scottish Daily Mail
"Let [Sue Black] take you by the hand and lead you on a journey which will inspire your awe and devotion. . . . A wonderful surprise of a book."—The Tablet
"Sue Black has been intimately involved with the aftermath of death for her whole professional career, and in her book she weaves in details of her amazing and active life with her analysis of death in a narrative that is personal, touching, occasionally tragic, but also instilled with her wonderful sense of humour."—Dr. Richard Shepherd, consultant forensic pathologist