From a skeleton, a skull, a mere fragment of burnt thighbone, Dr. William Maples can deduce the age, gender, and ethnicity of a murder victim, the manner in which the person was dispatched, and, ultimately, the identity of the killer. In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, Dr. Maples revisits his strangest, most interesting, and most horrific investigations, from the baffling cases of conquistador Francisco Pizarro and Vietnam MIAs to the mysterious deaths of President Zachary Taylor and the family of Czar Nicholas II.
Noted forensic anthropologist Maples, whose specialty is the study of bones, and freelance journalist Browning here recount Maples's criminal and anthropological investigations over the past 20 years. The meandering text combines episodes from Maples's personal life and education with discourses on his philosophy, his teaching at the Univ. of Florida and his work. The book's strength is as a snapshot of the world of forensic scientists, vividly portraying the siege mentality of many of them when their objective data are used for purposes other than ascertaining the truth about how a victim died. Despite the two-dimensional depiction of the people who were the objects of Maples's investigations-including the ``likely'' remains of Romanov Tsar Nicholas II-his memoirs should hold readers' interest. (Nov.)