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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Forensic Dentist

Television shows and books often depict the forensic scientist. A scientist might focus on chemistry, which encompasses crimes against property such as burglary, or they might focus on biology where the crimes are against people—murders and rapes. The third category is where the scientists focus on drugs and toxicology.

In a recent Army magazine (Issue 448) I learned about the forensic dentist.

The main ways to identify human remains are finger prints, DNA and dental records. Visual identification can be difficult and fingerprints are not always available. DNA testing is expensive, and this is where the forensic dentist comes in.

Teeth are the hardest part of the body and in recent times have been used to identify human remains. Identifying a person in this manner is quick, inexpensive and very accurate.

Our local army personnel have helped in identifying soldiers killed during combat in the first Gulf war and after disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake, the Boxing Day tsunami and the Victoria bush fires.

The forensic dentist said the work was demanding and could be unpleasant, but it was also rewarding to help give closure to a grieving family.

I thought – wow. I can use this as an occupation in a future book, and a plot started shaping in my mind to write when I get time.

And this leads me to a question for all you mystery and romantic suspense fans out there.

Is there a type of character or occupation that you’d like to read about in the future? One that you haven’t read about so far, or do you have a favorite type/occupation that you gravitate to?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy. She writes romance for Samhain Publishing and Ellora's Cave and loves to toss in dead bodies for interest. Her next release is a historical romance called Mistress of Merrivale, and it features murder and deeds most foul along with a marriage of convenience. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at 


Rita said...

I always want different. Of course I have my favorites but I love it when an author thrills me with something new in an old trope. Oh! What about a forensic dentist who discovers a dentist is killing people? Right now cowboy books are hot. I would love to see a cowboy book set in Florida where cowboys originated and until the late 70s produced more beef than any other state. Military heroes are hot what about military heroines? Whatever it is I want it to be authentic and if the heroine is TSTL I’m gone.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Wow, I hadn't thought about a forensic dentist. Fascinating.

I write about profilers, because I find it interesting to get into the head of the villain. And I've been watching Dexter lately, which has brought a new part of the CSI job to light - blood spatter analysis.

Interesting topic - and I've been wondering what jobs are out there that I never even knew of. I've toyed with the idea of writing about a "cleaner" - the guy/gal who cleans up after a crime scene - but I'm not sure anybody wants to read about that. LOL Still, I think it would be interesting.

jean harrington said...

Oh,that kind of cleaner, Anne Marie, not somebody who comes in to mop your kitchen floor, etc. Would an ordinary, non-crime cleaner be a good profession? Someone who's overlooked and underestimated but is the one who clue by clue solves the crime? A true malice domestic? We're brain-storming here, right? Interesting post, Shelly

Elise Warner said...

Great post, Shelly. So far, I've used theatre folk in the book published and the two I hope to have on their way soon. I've wandered all over the place with short stories--cream of society and mill workers.

Mary Kirkland said...

Now that's interesting. I think I gravitate towards veterinarians, pet rescuers and people who work on farms or with animals.

Maria Zannini said...

I agree about the crime scene cleaner. Not only do they make good money, think of the stories they could tell.

I met someone once who did that for a living.

A paramedic is another good occupation you don't see often either.

Shelley Munro said...

There's a mystery series with a crime scene cleaner. I read one of the books and really enjoyed it, but now I can't remember the author's name. I think she sees ghosts too. Does that same familiar to anyone?

Shelley Munro said...

Rita - I hear you about the TSTL heroine. Cowboys are very popular right now. I didn't know that about Florida.

Shelley Munro said...

Jean - LOL

Shelley Munro said...

Elise - nothing like variety. I know I'm tired of dukes in historical romances. I branched out into gentlemen with my murder and mayhem this time. :)

Shelley Munro said...

Mary - I think a lot of people enjoy stories with animals. I know I do :)

Shelley Munro said...

Maria - I think you'd need a strong stomach to do that job, but you'd have some interesting stories to go with your drinks and dinner outings.

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