University of Dundee

Top Crime Writers vie for the Prize in CAHID "Million for a Morgue" Campaign

28 Oct 2011

They are used to battling for the top spots in the bestsellers charts. Now ten of the world’s leading crime writers are vying for the honour of having a new morgue and research facility at the University of Dundee named after them.

Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Mark Billingham, Jeffrey Deaver, Jeff Lindsay, Stuart MacBride, Peter James and Val McDermid are the authors supporting the `Million For A Morgue’ campaign.
The crime writers have all given us forensically-detailed descriptions of grisly crimes. Now they are giving their backing to Dundee’s world-renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.
Fans can vote for their favourite author in the online poll at with each vote contributing £1 to the appeal. The author with the most votes will have the new morgue facility at Dundee named after them.
The University of Dundee has launched the `Million For A Morgue’ campaign to support a new morgue which will allow Professor Sue Black and colleagues in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to adopt the revolutionary Thiel method of embalming.
The University has already committed £1 million to the project but another £1million needs to be raised.
Professor Black and other members of the CAHID team featured in the major BBC2 series `History Cold Case’. The CAHID team have developed groundbreaking techniques in areas such as hand identification, which has directly led to the successful prosecution of a number of paedophiles identified from images of their hands found in obscene photographs and films.
The Centre also runs a major training programme in Disaster Victim Identification, which has trained police offers in practical techniques in human identification, enabling them to be deployed to help identify victims of mass fatalities anywhere in the world.
The link-up between the morgue project and the crime writers has come about through the long friendship between Val McDermid and Professor Black.
“I’ve known Sue for years and she has helped me tremendously with a lot of the sort of grisly technical detail that goes into my books,” said Val. “This is a very worthy cause and will give Sue and her team a fantastic new facility from which to continue their world-leading research work.
“I am delighted that my fellow authors have pitched in to give something back to the forensic community through this appeal. I hope that lovers of crime fiction will support the appeal and get voting.”
The new morgue will allow Professor Black and her team to adopt the Thiel method of embalming. This gives surgeons, dentists, students and medical researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches.
Dundee is the first University in the UK to adopt the Thiel method.
 “We will be the first University in the UK to exclusively use Thiel embalming and it is an area where, working together with other colleagues in the University, we can make real breakthroughs and change the face of scientific, medical and dental research and training,” said Professor Black.
Professor Black said she was delighted to have the crime writers on board for her fundraising project.
“This is an amazing group of people, who are among the most popular novelists in the world,” said Professor Black. “The work I have done with Val has always been very interesting and I am always happy to have been able to help. To receive such enthusiastic support from Val and her fellow writers is tremendously gratifying and I cannot thank them enough for lending their support to this project.”
Professor Black is Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University. CAHID is an internationally-leading centre in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, cranio-facial reconstruction and the study of the human body.
For more on the Million For A Morgue campaign see:
Stuart MacBride, writer of the Logan McRae novels:
 “I've been very lucky to pick the brains of some of the UK's top forensic experts: their support and advice has been invaluable in making sure that what goes on in the books is as close to what really happens as possible. It's not often that crime writers get to give something back to that community - other than buying them drinks, of course - so I'm delighted to be involved in helping Sue raise money for a new mortuary. And the fact that it'll help develop the next generation of experts who'll then help out the next generation of crime writers is a huge bonus too.”
Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist and bestselling author:
“As a practicing member of the forensic science community I am proud to be a participant in this effort.”
Tess Gerritsen, who has sold more than 20 million books around the world, including the `Rizzoli and Isles’ series:
“I write merely fiction, but these scientists work in the very real world of death investigation, a field that is sadly underfunded. How wonderful that that my fictional detectives can now help support the true detectives.”
Jeffery Deaver, author of the latest James Bond novel `Carte Blanche’:
“I'm delighted to be a participant in the Dundee Morgue Project. It's rare that authors have the opportunity to actually be involved in the subjects we write about and to give back to one of the professions that has so generously provided us with insight into the world we explore in our novels. I'm pleased to join my colleagues in encouraging awareness and support of this fine project.”
Lee Child, author of the hugely successful Jack Reacher series:
“Jack Reacher has sent many people to the morgue.  Now you can help him name it.”
Jeff Lindsay, originator of the TV series Dexter:
“I am very grateful to have this opportunity to make a small down payment on the huge debt I owe the forensics community, and I urge all readers of our genre to do likewise by voting early and often, like we do in all our elections in Florida.”
Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne novels:
“Like most crime writers I rely heavily on the expertise of a good many forensic professionals. It is fantastic to finally have a chance to repay that debt just a little and I can think of no better way than this. The Million For A Morgue campaign is inspired and I am thrilled to be part of it.”