How to Solve a Murder

Didn’t live up to expectations. The stories are largely surface level, lacking the depth to really be engaging.

Book title

How to Solve a Murder


Derek and Pauline Tremain

Standalone or series?


First time reading this author?


Why I picked this

I’m interested in books and TV series about crime and crime solving. This appealed, because it looked like something suitable for a layperson showing how the authors got involved in forensic medicine, and giving some examples of the kind of cases they’d used it in. I had the chance to read this pre-publication for review via NetGalley.

Review copy or purchase

Review copy via publisher HarperElement and NetGalley UK in exchange for an honest review.

What it’s about

Derek and Pauline Tremain both worked at Guy’s Hospital’s Department of Forensic Medicine. Derek started as a 15-year-old museum technician and Pauline was a medical secretary. The pair share their stories of working at Guy’s, how they got into this line of work, and some of the ways they forensic medicine being developed during their careers.


Unfortunately this book didn’t quite live up to my expectations. In part it’s anecdote based, taking a similar format to books like This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. Although it’s nowhere near as darkly funny or shocking as Adam’s book. The Tremains’ stories are largely surface level, lacking the depth to really be engaging.

For example there are references in the latter half of the book to emerging tensions at St Guy’s that made both Derek and Pauline consider whether they wanted to work there any more. However, that’s not really explained, so it just serves as a bit of a red herring. For a really gripping memoir the authors need to feel able to be honest, even about the difficult parts, and that’s just not there.

The most fascinating parts of the book were Derek’s chapters which gave a more indepth insight into his work on drowning analysis and developing weapon/injury overlay techniques. These sections made the connection between the work of the forensic medicine department and the real life cases much clearer, and were far more interesting as a result. I would have preferred a book that focussed on this element more, as I think there would have been more of interest and to learn.

If you’re fascinated by forensics and want to read something pitched to laypeople, this does have much to offer. However, you need to be prepared for quite a lot of filler.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

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