TITLE: The Cause of Death

AUTHOR: Dr. Cynric Temple-Camp

RATING: ★★★★

TRIGGER WARNING: Multiple counts of murder, accidental death, drowning, murder cases in general.

WHERE DID I RECEIVE THIS?: HarperCollinsNZ sent this to me in exchange for an honest review!

PAGES: 310

GENRE: Non-Fiction


You won’t believe these stories happened in New Zealand…

Forensic and coronial pathologist Dr Cynric Temple-Camp lifts the lid on some of the most fascinating cases he’s worked on during his 30-year career as a corpse investigator. Written with all the gritty detail of a Patricia Cornwell novel, the intrigue of Making a Murderer, and the horror of True Detective, this is a brilliantly told collection of true stories from a rural pathologist, including the high-profile Lundy murders.

Told with great skill, full of suspense, cliff-hangers and bizarre and surprising twists in the narrative – most of the examinations are at crime scenes, and there’s a real sense of adventure as Dr Temple-Camp heads off, often in the middle of the night, into the unknown.

A forensic pathologist is, in Dr Temple-Camp’s own words: ‘Someone who cuts up the dead to find out why they died.’ Dr Temple-Camp’s stories of spontaneous combustion, a gruesome murder right beneath the control tower at Palmerston North Airport, a mysterious death in an historic homestead, rare diseases, drug-mules, devil-worshippers, cot-deaths, land-mark cases, exhumations, are all from our own backyard.

This book will shock and entertain, make you squirm but also occasionally pull at the heartstrings.

“There are indeed tales of woe here. Of course there are. For that is death, and that is life; happiness and woe”
I admit it. I’ve never been a big non fiction reader, before this year you would have never caught a non fiction book in my hands. But I’ve read a few this year and none of them have disappointed me by any means. The Cause of Death is a non fiction novel about the cases that a New Zealand Pathologist has dealt with in his life. His first few cases are at the start of his career and give an interesting insight into what it was like for him to be a medic in the army, and explains how he slowly found his way to Pathology.
This book had me riveted from the first page, and I constantly kept going “just one more page, just read about one more case” and I found it hard to put down. There is a wide array of cases in this book, from murder, accidental drowning, to a man spontaneously combusting. No matter your interest in death, you will find something interesting in this book.
My favourite part of this book, was the human aspect of it. How kindly he treated all his patients, how much care and effort he put into finding out what happened to them, even when he didn’t have to. It painted a nice picture, that even in death, we will be going to good hands, the hands of those who will treat us kindly and search for justice for us, should we need it.
I will admit, two cases stand out to me, the case involving a babysitter who supposedly killed two children. And the Mark Lundy case. I was too young to be aware of the Mark Lundy case when it occurred but I found it absolutely riveting and I truly felt like after reading this, I knew a lot more about the case (and some of the ridiculous things the defense tried to use!) i also found myself highly interested in the case where a babysitter was suspected of killed two sisters on separate occasions, probably because of the heavy psychological aspect of that case. Even when he was talking about some minor cases that didn’t hold the same interest as the big cases, I always found myself interested and I attribute that to the simplistic but effective writing style.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and the only reason it isn’t getting a 5 star rating is that it hasn’t moved me or such. I’m getting a lot pickier with my 5 stars, but this wholly deserved its 4 star rating and fed into my interest of forensic psychology and pathology.
I think anyone with an interest in the macabre, death, true crime, or even the CSI shows, should give this a go!
*a massive thank you to HarperCollinsNZ for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review*

Until Next Time,

One thought on “Death & Life * SPOILER FREE* THE CAUSE OF DEATH REVIEW

  1. Pingback: AUGUST WRAP UP

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