Together, crime writers Val McDermid, Patricia Cornwell, and Kathy Reichs (with help from the fictional forensic investigators on CSI and Bones) have introduced a whole new set of terms to the pop cultural lexicon “ petechial hemorrhaging, fixed lividity, and body decomposition, to name a few. McDermid et al. write thrillers that are steeped in the minutiae of forensic science and depend for their effects on the verisimilitude of the technical information they include, which is often supplied by consultations with professionals in the field.
McDermid’s new pet project is therefore appropriate: she has enlisted the help of fellow writers Cornwell and Reichs, as well as others including Lee Child, Tess Gerritsten, and Jeffrey Deaver, to help raise money to build a state-of-the-art morgue in Dundee, U.K. McDermid is friends with Sue Black, the director for the Centre of Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, which has already committed £1 million to the project; the authors are trying to raise an additional £1 million to allow the project to move forward.
The new morgue would enable Black and her colleagues to adopt the Thiel method of embalming, which would give researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques and surgeons a more realistic way to practise procedures.
Black said the new morgue’s use of Thiel embalming would enable the university to “make real breakthroughs and change the face of scientific, medical, and dental research and training.” The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification has already developed a ground-breaking hand identification technique, which has helped identify paedophiles from images of their hands in films and photographs, and also runs a disaster victim identification training programme.
The new morgue will be named after one of the participating authors. Fans have been offered the opportunity to donate to the campaign, which has been dubbed “Million for a Morgue.” Each pound donated entitles the giver to one vote; the morgue will be named for the author who secures the most votes.