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Dr Mark Spencer is a forensic botanist – in other words, he helps police with cases where plants can unlock clues to solve crimes, from murder and rape to arson and burglary.
Murder Most Florid is an enthralling, first-person account that follows Mark's unconventional and unique career, one that takes him to woodlands, wasteland and roadsides, as well as police labs, to examine the botanical evidence of serious crimes. From unearthing a decomposing victims from brambles to dissecting the vegetation of a shallow grave, Mark's botanical knowledge can be crucial to securing a conviction.
More widely, this gripping book challenges our attitude to death and response to crime. It picks holes in the sensationalized depictions of policing we see on TV, and asks pertinent questions about public sector funding in the face of rising crime. Most importantly, it shows us how the ancient lessons of botanical science can still be front and centre in our modern, DNA-obsessed world.
Dr Mark Spencer studied botany at the University of Reading, followed by a PhD on the evolution of aquatic fungi. He then became a field botanist for the London Wildlife Trust before joining London's Natural History Museum as a research assistant and, subsequently, senior curator. After receiving an out-of-the-blue phone call from the police, he embarked on a career as a forensic botanist. He is now self-employed and works with police forces and specialist forensic companies across the UK. Dr Spencer regularly appears on TV, most recently on Living the Life and Nature's Weirdest Events, as well as BBC2, BBC Radio 4, Sky News and Countryfile.