Risking Life for Death: Lessons for the Living from the Autopsy Table (Paperback) Ryan Blumenthal

Every contact leaves a trace – a singular strand of hair or a tiny droplet of blood can be the silent witness at a crime scene. Locard’s Exchange Principle underpins all forensic science and holds that the perpetrator of a crime will bring something to the crime scene and leave with something from it.  Read more below.

Ryan Blumenthal


Available on back-order


Forensic experts use this principle daily to catch murderers and assailants. In Risking Life for Death, South African forensic pathologist Ryan Blumenthal offers a masterclass in this singular forensic technique based on real-life case studies. With more than 20 years’ experience in the field, Blumenthal explains how to look for clues and traces, and how what he does not find at autopsy is often more important than what he does find. In other words, the absence of evidence can sometimes be of greater value than the presence of evidence.

His account also highlights the dangers forensic pathologists are exposed to daily. As they try to unravel the puzzle of someone’s death, forensic pathologists often face life-threatening infections, toxic gasses and accidental injury, in effect risking their life for someone else’s death.

An understanding of Locard’s Exchange Principle can help you become a medical detective in your own life and can even help you be a happier person, Blumenthal argues.

RYAN BLUMENTHAL is a forensic pathologist with more than twenty years’ experience in the field, and he is based in South Africa. His book Autopsy: Life in the Trenches with a Forensic Pathologist in Africa, which was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in August 2020, became a non-fiction bestseller in South Africa. His eight-part documentary Lightning Pathologist was aired from 9 to 20 November 2020 on People°s Weather (Channel 180) on DStv. It was viewed by over 2,2 million people.