A Life in Death by Richard Venables (2016)

A Life in DeathDetective Inspector Richard Venables (QPM, rtd.) has helped identify thousands of bodies all over the world, piecing together fragments from tsunamis, transport and other disasters to return the victims to their loved ones.

A world-renowned expert in Disaster Victim Identification who was a member of the UK Police’s Major Disaster Advisory Team, Richard’s destiny was shaped in part by his presence as a uniformed sergeant at the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster.

In A Life in Death, Richard tells his extraordinary story, of how death came to be a key feature of his personal as well as professional life, as well as how he coped with the biggest challenge of his life: the 2004 Asian Tsunami, the deadliest event of its kind ever experienced by human civilization, claiming 230,000 lives.

Upon his retirement from the Police in 2006, Richard was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in recognition of his distinguished service. In A Life in Death, Richard takes us behind the scenes of extraordinary events, explaining with compassion and searing honesty the absolute necessity of his work, his life’s passion.

ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

One-Sentence Summary: A cop’s life working in the field of Disaster Victim Identification

Review: This book is not for the fainthearted. There is a lot of talk of dead bodies and quite a bit of talk about dead bodies in conditions you never want to imagine a human being in.

However, it is also very interesting. If you ever want to satisfy your macabre curiosity as to how the police identify victims involved in a disaster without getting too much into the science, then this is the book for you. It never lets you forget the sensitivity and the human element of working in a field which deals with tragedy after tragedy.

Richard Venables is in a unique perspective to be able to deliver an account of how Disaster Victim Identification has progressed from the ’80s to now as he pretty much invented the process for the UK and worked on a multitude of national and international disasters from some horrific train crashes to the Asian Tsunami and the 7/7 London bombings. He manages to do so without his personal agenda and thoughts against the establishment, which naturally seeps out now and again, taking over the whole book.


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