Handbook of forensic drug analysis

Handbook of forensic drug analysis 
Fred Smith
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier|2004 | 584pp | ?85 (HB) | ISBN 0126506418
Reviewed by Michael Cole

This text written by a number of experts in their field is an extremely useful addition to forensic science literature. It is aimed at those involved in the analysis of drugs of abuse. It treats the analytical methodologies both vertically, addressing a number of drugs classes, as well as horizontally, covering major methodologies and their applications to drug analysis. Although each chapter is slightly different in style, as a whole the book is comprehensive, relevant and well referenced. 

The book starts with the fundamentals, including the principles of sampling, the value of proficiency testing and accreditation and immunological methodologies.  

Subsequent chapters address the major drug classes, starting with cannabis and its products, including the chemistry of the major cannabinoids, botanical examination, chromatographic methods, and methodologies for comparing different samples.  

Molecular biology methodologies are also considered but perhaps in less depth than the traditional approaches. Usefully, the text then continues examining cannabis products in biological materials and presents an extremely useful collection of available methodologies. 

The hallucinogens are treated slightly differently in that spectroscopic methodologies are presented (IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy) and their applications to a variety of drugs. 

Cocaine analyses are presented in a similar way, with some excellent examples of the use of microcrystal tests. Opioids and amphetamines follow a similarly useful pattern. 

Interestingly, illicit drug manufacture is discussed, with an emphasis on clandestine laboratories that manufacture methamphetamine. A number of synthetic routes are presented and material is covered from a law enforcement perspective. 

This text should be considered an essential addition to the library of any forensic science laboratory. The book is easy to read, clearly laid out, systematic in presentation and to be wholeheartedly recommended.