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From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes (ePub)

Military P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Ron Turnbull
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
File Size: 12.8 MB (.epub)
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526758675
Published: 17th June 2020


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For over ten years he was the first detective on the scene when a murder was committed in south London. In the confusion and horror of the crime scene he identified the forensic clues that would later be needed to convict the killer in the calm and measured atmosphere of the Old Bailey; calling out the necessary experts from pathologists to ballistics specialists; protecting the scene against contamination. One slip and a case would crumble; one moment of inspiration and the Yard would have its man.

He was the natural choice when the UN were looking for an experienced detective to create a trail of evidence linking the mass graves of Bosnia to the people who ordered the worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Second World War.

From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes tells of the rise of forensic evidence against the true story backdrop of a detective who has spent a career at the front line in the war against murder – the ultimate crime. It traces the development of forensic science and techniques from the days of the fingerprint to the battery of tests now available to homicide investigators. It is told in the no nonsense style of a pioneer cop who has seen the worst that human beings can do to each other.

I found previous Flying Squad books interesting and the added element of war crimes piqued my interest. This book follows the author from starting in the police throughout his entire career.
The chapters being shorter and being split into specific cases, locations or specific information was helpful as you were able to digest the information easily. Learning about the changes in forensics and how they were becoming more important through specific cases or situations made it a lot easier to understand and more interesting.
The parts explaining his career in different countries and investigating war crimes is something I have not read before and found fascinating.
Definitely recommended.

For the Love of Books

This is a remarkable story, with many real life experiences from his [Ron Turnbull] career. A compelling book to read and has a well deserved 5 star rating review.

Bullseye, May-June 2020

A fascinating read of a mans journey from police officer to forsenic officer. The details in this book were incredible and I can’t put it down.
An amazing book.

NetGalley, Tracey Shults

Genocide is not something that started and ended with the German Nazis and this book is specially welcome because it looks at more recent genocide through the eyes of a British detective who spent time investigating Bosnian war crimes. The break up of Yugoslavia after the death of Josip Bron Tito was inevitable because the centuries of religious and ethnic division. Once the strong man was gone there was no one to hold the fragile union together. – Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


Reading about the grim but necessary excavations of the mass graves that resulted from the horror in the Balkans was difficult but ultimately rewarding as this evidence was used by the UN for the war crimes trials. I was heartened to hear of the sensitivity displayed by all involved as they tried to not only keep the forensic chain intact but also help the loved ones of the murdered victims discover what happened to their loved ones. This is not an easy book to read but is rewarding to see justice done for so many people.

NetGalley, Jayne Sims

This is the extraordinary autobiography of an extraordinary man who gathered evidence against the most heinous criminals in terms of organised crime and later those who were responsible for committing the most appalling war crimes with the aim of bringing them to justice.

Books Monthly

Turnbull writes honestly and without exaggeration of his years in the Met. The years he spent working as an investigator for the UN are especially painful to read about, because of the horrendous crimes he had to investigate. I found the writing gripping and his journey from Fife bobby to UN war crimes investigator fascinating. As a memoir of policing in the second half of the twentieth century, it is very London-centric, but the social history of Britain and the other places Turnbull has lived is useful for those wanting those little bits of information that would bring fiction to life.

Read the full review here

Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

Extract feature published by

South London Press, 13th December 2019

Your book had to be written. People have to know what barbaric things have been done by man against man. By your efforts, and those of the teams you worked with, some of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. An excellent book!

Customer Review

This is a remarkable story, with many interesting experiences from his career.

NetGalley, Janette Forman

Article: 'Ex-police officer writes book about key role in war crimes investigations' as featured by

Hastings and St Leonards Observer – words by Richard Gladstone

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and read it over two days when I was away on holiday.

I love books of this nature and I thought that the author had a great way of telling the story of his life, it was full of fun anecdotes and I am amazed by how much he managed to get involved in that I had heard about too, he has worked on some really well known cases.

The writing style I found to be perfectly suited and as I was reading it, you could almost hear the words coming from the author. My husband really enjoys this kind of book too as he has a Police background and I have already told him that this is definitely a must read!

I have no hesitation in giving this book 5 stars – it is very highly recommended by me and I found it to be a completely additive read and a great insight in to his life, his exploits when working for the police and some of the activities he got involved in whilst working for the UN and others – it is a remarkable story!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Interesting story of a policeman who became a forensics officer... a decent read.

NetGalley, Graham Bawden

About Ron Turnbull

Ron Turnbull received several high commendations from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner plus a UN Kosovo campaign medal and UN Kosovo medal for Services of Peacekeeping as a result of this work. Ron Turnbull is not the gung-ho detective of popular fiction and television, bursting down doors in dawn raids or seizing dangerous men at gun point, although as a younger man he had more than his share of high velocity action with two tours on The Sweeney. His job as a 'forensic' detective was to give the dead a voice that would be heard in court and to convict the guilty from the grave. “A dead body talks if you ask it the right questions,” he says.

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