I love police procedurals, especially when you need a lot of adjectives to nail them. For example, Ben Winters‘s The Last Policeman (the first in a trilogy) has been described so many ways: murder mystery; dystopian fiction; apocalyptic novel; detective story. It’s all of the above, plus a darn good read,
What does this have to do with nonfiction? Well, Elizabeth A. Murray, PhD, has written a couple of excellent forensic titles for TFCB–Death: Corpses, Cadavers, and Other Grave Matters and Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death. Her YA books for TFCB showcase how forensic professionals do their work. How do professionals define and identify death? How do they work with corpses? How do they know when and how a person died? And how do they figure out the identity of a dead person if it is not immediately obvious?
Murray is a forensic anthropologist who also teaches college biology in Ohio. When I read police procedurals, I generally keep in mind what I’ve learned from Murray’s books. It doesn’t help me solve the fictional crime, but it does deepen my appreciation of the tale.
Think about pairing detective novels with forensic YA nonfiction to challenge readers in your school and to expand their appreciation for how fiction and nonfiction work together to tell stories about the human experience. They’ll love it!