by CJ Hunter and Roberto D.
Lighting the Fire
Though devastating and destructive, David Owen presents fires and explosions as increasingly solvable crimes through the use of modern investigative techniques. Advances in science still allow cases to be solved where evidence has been destroyed or tainted. Owen illustrates many of these methods of investigation in his chapter “Fire and Explosives” from his work Hidden Evidence. However, Owen relies upon his background as a scientific journalist and a forensic expert to present these methods to us in a style that will appeal to the both the common reader and the forensic devotee. Through his rhetorical and visual style, which neatly creates niches for all technology and investigators but continually shows they must work together, Owen portrays fire and explosive cases as a giant puzzle. The puzzles technologically-analyzed evidence, but is solved and contextualized by the investigators. This picture of the crime is unaffected by the destructive nature of bombs and fires, and ultimately satisfies our desire to know that criminals cannot outsmart the police force. This fufills a need that true crime media historian Jean Murley describes as “both terrifying and oddly reassuring” among the readers and fans of the genre (Murley 1). Murley could recognize Owen`s work as a piece of true crime, whether Owen intended it to appear that way or not, because of the resolute nature he presents in his work. Whether or not arsonists or bombers destroy evidence, the “good guys” can still determine the perpetrator with combined force of technology and human investigative ability.