by Richard Shepard
Meet the forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd. He solves the mysteries of unexplained or sudden death. He’s a detective in his own right. And he has one, ultimate and pressing question to answer: How did this person die? Unnatural Causes is an unputdownable record of an extraordinary life, a unique insight into a remarkable profession, and above all a powerful and reassuring testament to lives cut short.
Dr Shepherd has faced serial killers, natural disaster, ‘perfect murders’ and freak accidents, all in the pursuit of the truth. And while he’s been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it’s often the less well-known encounters that prove the most perplexing, intriguing and even bizarre. In or out of the public eye, his evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads. But a life in death, bearing witness to some of humanity’s darkest corners, exacts a price and Shepherd doesn’t flinch from counting the cost to him and his family. The dead do not hide the truth and they never lie. Through me the dead can speak . . .
“Unnatural Causes” by Dr Richard Shepard is a fascinating non-fiction read about the author’s life and career as a forensic pathologist.
I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Dr Shepard himself. I really enjoyed his narration and appreciated the passion and sorrow in his voice at appropriate moments. Of course, I’ve not read the print copy, but I feel like this added level of emotion probably made me enjoy this book more as it felt that little bit more human.
This is a honest book and Dr Shepard doesn’t shy away from the difficult subjects. The nature of his work, of course, is difficult, but the way this was written meant that I was really engaged in his retelling of some of the numerous murders, disasters and accidents that he has attended as a pathologist. Some of the most well-known cases he has worked on include the death of Princess Diana in 1997, the 9/11 attacks and the London 7/7 bombings a few years later. There were also many other cases, some of which I’d never heard of and was glad to have been educated about, particularly the Clapham Rail disaster, which I don’t feel is talked about enough.
I was also particularly interested in the science and the skills required in pathology, a field I’ve not ever put much thought into before. As well telling the stories of his work, there are also autobiographical elements to this story that remind you that Dr Shepard is a person, just like the rest of us. Just because he sees terrible things on a daily basis, it doesn’t mean he’s immune to the struggles of life.
Overall rating: “Unnatural Causes” is a fascinating read. Dr Richard Shepard tells the story of his life and career working as a forensic pathologist. This is an interesting, honest and human look at his role and the events that required his involvement. I really enjoyed this – 5 stars!