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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner is a non-fiction occupational memoir written by Donna Nayler. In the very private and secret world of crime scene clean-up, Donna’s job at any crime scene is to observe her surroundings and speak for the dead. At all times, Donna must be ready to drop everything she is doing at a moment’s notice and report for duty. Being prepared for any and every scenario is part of the job, whether attending a drug lab or a murder, and ensuring no contamination occurs to disrupt the investigation is a must. Vicks VapoRub smeared under the nostrils keeps the smell of decaying bodies at bay while also keeping the contents of Donna’s stomach intact. Receiving death threats, while frightening, are one of the unavoidable job hazards that Crime Scene Cleaners face on a daily basis. Working with unprotected syringes, bullet casings, drug fumes, blood, body parts or hidden deadly critters such as snakes and, in some cases, criminals who are on the run, yet determined to keep the secrets which the crime scene holds, make the job tricky and dangerous, so it is essential to take the proper precautions needed in order to stay safe at all times.
I have to take my hat off to Donna Nayler for providing such an insightful look into a world where I have never dared to venture. Watching it on television is one thing, but to read the true stories of clean-ups and picture the amount of blood (and other bodily fluids) at a crime scene, described by how many cups it would fill, really is stomach-turning. Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner is extremely well-written and provides an in-depth, bird's-eye view of what goes on behind the scenes in a clean-up, sans detective work (which is the job of the police). It did not even occur to me that the wildlife would be an added obstacle in a clean-up until the snakes and spiders of Australia came stampeding back into my memory while reading Donna Nayler’s book. I was pleasantly surprised by Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner, and recommend it to mature readers who are interested in what goes on behind the scenes during a crime scene clean-up.