The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons Medical Examiner
W. R. Anderson
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
As a forensic pathologist I’ve been involved in thousands of cases involving deaths wherein there is some suspicious circumstance, the death is related to trauma and the cause and mechanism of injury may become important, the cause of death is unknown, or is the result of the action of another—particularly instances of homicide, medical negligence or when the victim is under the control of a State agency, such as in police custody.
While there is an increased interest in forensic science on the part of the citizenry, often as in any field, some of the intricacies involved in the actual practice of those sciences may not be particularly apparent to them. And sometimes this obscuring may be other than inadvertent.
One of the objectives of this series of case studies by our fictional medical sleuth is to uncover some of the problems that are often ‘under the radar’ of the people not directly associated with the field, as is the case with all of us when dealing with areas that we don’t encounter every day.
Hopefully, this will be at least a little informative.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I think the general public, including when those folks serve on juries, have the impression that forensic science is an exact process, and very black-and-white, basically immune from the outside influences that might tend to prejudice a case. The reality is quite different with often considerable political pressures being exerted to come up with a result that will help the prosecution (the State) which most often is the employer of the very scientists who are trying to be ‘independent’.
In the late 1800’s the birth of forensic science was fostered to some extent at least, by a number of writers who featured protagonists who utilized investigative techniques and critical thinking in their approach to solving crimes—and some real ways enlightened people as to how science might vastly improve law enforcement investigations.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would obviously stand out as a prime example of what I am referencing. Holmes not only used deductive reasoning in his approach to investigative problems, but also suggested many avenues wherein science, including chemistry and forensic analysis, could help solve crimes.
It really is these types of methodologies seemingly pure ‘science fiction’ at the time, that led to the development of many of the disciplines we now have in the field of forensic science and pathology.
Now that the science has been established, it is necessary to critically address the potential problems that might arise when actual people perform these ‘scientific’ exams, and the human errors that would possibly compromise the integrity and accuracy of those determinations.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Despite the precision and objectivity that science brings to the field of forensic analysis, we must remember that although the methods and techniques are accurate and free from bias, the humans that perform those techniques and utilize those methods are a different story, and subject to the potential for errors in the performance of the analysis, as well as potential bias in the equally important interpretation of the results that they generate.
We see in all of the cases that Dr. Arthur Lyons investigates that while the facts may be relatively clear and straight forward, the issues can be rapidly clouded and complicated when the politics of human nature becomes involved.
There is consistently the most frequent problem that is encountered by our hero, and in reality reflects situations encountered almost daily by forensic sciences in dealing with a legal system that places a priority on winning, and scientists that are trying to bring objective analyses of medicolegal situations to the court—with the goal of educating the jury to the truths they are trying to explain.
It is important that potential biases be recognized in order that the public doesn’t automatically equate ‘forensic science’ with absolute fact when confronted with information that might be presented to them as irrefutable ‘scientific fact’ most critically when they deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. In this case, it is good to be skeptical!
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
As a practicing physician and forensic pathologist and having experienced many of the issues in common with our protagonist Dr. Lyons, this seemed to be an area that I knew at least a little about, and since these are fictional accounts, they are constructed in a manner to address some of the real-life issues encountered in the practice of forensic pathology in the real world.
5) Of all the cases in your novel, is there one in particular that you found compelling or captivating more so than the other cases mentioned in the book? For instance the Boy in the Mat case really held my attention as it mirrored a real life case that has captivated and made me eager to see justice done for quite some time, and reading the story here only served to heighten my interest in that case.
As I indicated earlier, although the case studies are fictional and not necessarily base upon actual case situations, the issues addressed were based upon a composite of experiences and problems encountered in the real-world medical practices of many forensic pathologists.
There are a number of concerns addressed in each of the case studies in Volume One, that include the political intrigue and cover-up in the ‘Rough Ride’ case, the failure to acknowledge the clear evidence of a non-accidental death in the ‘Gym Mat’ case, and the conviction of a young Black teenager, fleeing a law enforcement officer firing indiscriminately into a darkened vehicle—claiming that he ‘ran over’ that officer despite the absence of impact injuries and a dashcam video that clearly refuted the facts upon which he was convicted.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Well we’re still in the early stages of getting this project off the ground, but we’re using FaceBook primarily as well as email to various contacts. The plan is to continue as e-book on Amazon and within a few months expand to at least a paperback format.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Everybody has areas of expertise, and it is usually in those areas that the person is most knowledgeable and consequently most comfortable.
Personally, I think there is great potential in utilizing real life experiences as the basis for fictionalization and in doing so can extract certain factual situations and expand them thru ‘poetic license’ to address larger issues—utilizing this as a potential vehicle to both enhance awareness of a problem and provide impetus for action to correct it.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
There is, either happily or unfortunately, (depending your perspective) a plethora of cases both from recent events and from my professional experience that continue to address the issues and raise the controversies that fueled the first volume of case studies.
Clearly we title the first book as ‘Volume 1” indicating that there were more to come and consequently plan to have a second installment in the series ready for publication by late summer of this year (2019), which will include several more case studies addressing the problems and the successes of our hero in the pursuit of justice in the practice of forensic medicine.
You can read the review of W.R. Anderson’s book here!
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