Burned’ is one of the most important critiques of forensic ‘science’ ever written but because it will shock, move and enlighten you. Burned’ plows through decades of received myth and junk science to reveal the sometimes tragic mistakes in our criminal justice system. Humes, as always, is humane and provocative. Reporting like this is a big reason our republic is still mostly in one piece. On an April night in 1989, three small children perished in a Los Angeles apartment fire. Their twenty-three-year-old mother, Jo Ann Parks, escaped unharmed, the sole survivor and only eyewitness. Though they at first believed the fire had been a tragic accident, arson investigators soon decided that Parks had sabotaged wiring, set several fires herself, and even barricaded her four-year-old son inside a closet to make sure he could not escape the flames. Authorities pronounced Parks one of the most monstrous killers in Los Angeles history, motivated by a desire to be free of parental responsibilities and eager to cash in by suing her landlords. Convicted through the power of forensic fire science, Parks remains in prison to this day, sentenced to life without possibility of parole.
More than a quarter century later, however, there has been a revolution in the science of fire. Much of what was thought to be gospel in 1989 has been revealed to be myth and guesswork disguised as science. Now the Parks case has been reopened and re-investigated, the subject of an intense legal battle stretching over ten months of hearings in Los Angeles County Superior Court. They argue this not only led to the wrongful conviction of an innocent mother, but also turned a terrible accident into a triple homicide case —condemning Parks to life in prison for a crime that never happened. Will Jo Ann Parks be exonerated? Or can prosecutors come up with enough evidence from the ashes to make sure she dies in prison? No matter how it turns out, someone will be left burned.
This sobering, enlightening read is true crime at its best, with the right blend of justice and intrigue that will leave readers searching for truth in the criminal justice system. Eye-opening, suspenseful tale of murder and secrets. A powerful true crime tale that questions the authority of forensic science. One of the best new crime non-fiction books. Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Humes once again exposes a flawed American criminal justice system, this time with a new twist. Burned is a gripping, bone-chilling look at the justice system from an elegant writer. I used to brag about having the shortest commute in town: downstairs for coffee, back up to my office to write. My daily commute is really more on the order of 3 million miles—without ever leaving the house. From field to broker to port to factory to store to me, my morning coffee blend traveled enough miles to circle the globe—and that’s just the bag of beans. Add the cream, the globally sourced parts of my coffeemaker, the filter, the water and the electricity to power it, and my java has circled the earth a couple times before my first sip.
I spent the past year looking under the hood of our have-it-now, same-day-delivery economy. I wanted to know how our lattes and pizzas and phones and cans of coke move door to door, what it all costs, and how much we have left in the tank. Now we and our 3-million-mile commutes are at a fork in the road. Will gridlock win the day, or can the dreamers and tech wizards really re-invent mobility, end motor deaths, conquer traffic jams, and remove the most unreliable part of a car, the driver? Come take a ride with me in Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. Edward Humes on Door to Door. A fascinating read from the center of world car culture.
This fun, informative, timely book will inspire many readers. BookTV: Nevermind the “I Word” This C-SPAN spot featuring Edward Humes, Rust author Jonny Waldman, and the erudite Brian Fagan is worth checking out. Waste is America’s leading product and largest export. Each of us is on track to toss 102 tons of trash in life—7. 1 pounds a day, every day. The epic waste embedded in our daily lives not only leads the world, it drives many of the era’s greatest crises—in energy, climate, pollution, security and the economy. Garbology is also the story of families discovering the joys of zero waste. Artists producing masterpieces at the dump. Businesses being less trashy to serve both profit and planet.