Burned: Book summary and reviews of Burned by Edward Humes

Burned

A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

by Edward Humes

Burned by Edward Humes X
Burned by Edward Humes
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2019
    320 pages
    Genre: True Crime

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Book Summary

Was a monstrous killer brought to justice or an innocent mother condemned?

On an April night in 1989, Jo Ann Parks survived a house fire that claimed the lives of her three small children. Though the fire at first seemed a tragic accident, investigators soon reported finding evidence proving that Parks had sabotaged wiring, set several fires herself, and even barricaded her four-year-old son inside a closet to prevent his escape. Though she insisted she did nothing wrong, Jo Ann parks received a life sentence without parole based on the power of forensic fire science that convincingly proved her guilt.

But more than a quarter century later, a revolution in the science of fire has exposed many of the incontrovertible truths of 1989 as guesswork in disguise. The California Innocence Project is challenging Parks's conviction and the so-called science behind it, claiming that false assumptions and outright bias convicted an innocent mother of a crime that never actually happened.

If Parks is exonerated, she could well be the "Patient Zero" in an epidemic of overturned guilty verdicts - but only if she wins. Can prosecutors dredge up enough evidence and roadblocks to make sure Jo Ann Parks dies in prison? No matter how her last-ditch effort for freedom turns out, the scenes of betrayal, ruin, and hope will leave readers longing for justice we can trust.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An instant true-crime classic that reads like a thriller, this joins the ranks of recent works also throwing into question the belief that crime scene investigators can infallibly arrive at the right answer." - Publishers Weekly

"A useful addition to the popular literature on forensic science." - Kirkus

"Riveting... Humes’ fascinating account is perfect for the many readers interested in crime-scene investigation.” -Booklist

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Humes (No Matter How Loud I Shout) examines the 1989 case of Jo Ann Parks, convicted of murder when her children died in a fire, to show how forensic work of the last decades was rooted in bad science, with countless unjust convictions resulting." - Library Journal

"Read this book now. Not only because Burned is one of the most important critiques of forensic 'science' ever written but because it will shock, move and enlighten you...Reporting like this is a big reason our republic is still mostly in one piece." - T. Jefferson Parker, author of Swift Vengeance and The Room of White Fire

"Burned is a gripping, bone-chilling look at our justice system from a superb writer....Anyone who reads Jo Ann Parks story will be moved in profound ways." - Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor of Psychological Science and Law, University of California, Irvine

"Burned is four stories in one book – about a woman convicted of murdering her children; how cultural myths that have long misled fire investigators are being replaced by the findings of fire scientists; how police, prosecutors and forensic scientists can ignore exonerative information; and a story of lawyers seeking to secure justice, however much delayed. Each story is worth reading. Together they make for one good book." - Richard Lempert, Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology Emeritus, The University of Michigan Law School

The information about Burned shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Edward Humes

Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author whose fourteen previous books include Garbology, Mississippi Mud, and the PEN Award-winning No Matter How Loud I Shout. He splits his time between Seattle and Southern California.

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