Cane Hill - Historic Washington Co - AR

Cane Hill - Historic Washington Co - AR
Shakespeare is Here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist, A Review

The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist, by Mary H Manhein 0-8071-2404-4 - Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (1999) 137 Pages.
The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist by Mary H. Manhein. Our Library Book.

"The Bone Lady..." was brought to my attention by our Genealogy Librarian, who is over our Arkansas Authors collection. She knows I love mystery, and forensic writers such as Patricia Cornwell, and Kathy Reichs.

At first I did not realize that "The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist" was a non-fiction, but when I saw that it was not a huge book, I excitedly checked it out from her department.

I have had this book checked out two weeks longer than my return date, because it is important that I do a review on this book. At only 137 pages, I am sure there is some magic afoot here, because I feel like I read a 300 - 400 page book. [I don't mean that as if it were a drudge at all. What I refer to is that full feeling a voracious reader receives after finishing a beloved book.

The love of learning has never left me, and as I slowly studied each chapter, I felt as if I were not just a student of Dr. Manheins', but also a fellow anthropologist. 

As much as I love Kay Scarpetta, I would never qualify to collect the dust from her shoes, but with Mary Manhein, I am able to learn, because she knows how to tell the stories given to us by the bones. She is a true public servant and I admire her work, and ethics. 

She introduces herself to the reader in such a way that makes the hearer comfortable; "Though a scientist by trade, by birth and 'ascribed status' as we anthropologists say, I am also a storyteller." 

Mary Manhein is from the hills of Southwest Arkansas and Northwest Louisiana - her life revolved around stories. She uses her gift as a storyteller in her unique teaching style and is able to "weave a story into every lesson taught."

Dr. Manhein fills my curious soul with cases, science anthropology, history and awe as she truly weaves her case studies in to a small book that puts me in the mind of the amazing Tardis. 

Somehow Mary Manhein walks us to the crime scenes and / or burial sites, not sparing our noses; she reminds us to don our paper booties, and cautions us to respect the sometimes lengthy and painstaking process. 

The Bone Lady has found scenes in train box cars, mule trains, and swamp boats. Being in northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas she mostly deals in humid and hot places.

One thing about Mary Manhein that stands out to me more than anything is her care for those who are left far afield, underwater, or behind corn cribs. Many of her investigations spanned years, and a majority have been solved. 

"Beneath The Corn Crib: Small Wooden Box 18 inches, well constructed, hinged, lined with velvet is probably from Pre-WWII" remains a mystery and may always be.


From Chapter 27 of The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist.

Near the end of The Bone Lady, Ms. Manhein shares her unsolved and unidentified victims. She adds these in hopes that one day, these persons will be reunited with families to receive closure. 

 I am going to share photographs of unidentified people I took of the photos in her book, hoping that those interested will read this book, and may find out what happened to their loved ones, and more about the good work done in the Southern part of North America by Mary Manhein, law enforcement, and her students.


From Chapter 27 of The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist.

"...In December 1991, in Calcasieu Parish, Vinton, LA, S on I-10, the body of a female, dead only a few days; aged 23 - 30 years old, approximately 5'4" tall, weighing 110 - 115 lbs, was found. She had a small ring with a bird image in turquoise, and other jewelry near her."(pp135). 
From Chapter 27 of The Bone Lady: Life As A Forensic Anthropologist.

I love listening to her voice, and maybe this video will give that voice to the words, when you read her good books.


Mary Manhein, Director of LSU FACES Laboratory on Face Reconstruction - YouTube

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