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Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners

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Neal Smither doesn’t hide his work. The side of his van reads: “Crime Scene Cleaners: Homicides, Suicides and Accidental Death.” Whenever a hotel guest permanently checks out, the cops finish an investigation, or an accidental death is reported, Smither’s crew pick up the pieces after the police cruisers and ambulances have left. Alan Emmins offers a glimpse at this little- Neal Smither doesn’t hide his work. The side of his van reads: “Crime Scene Cleaners: Homicides, Suicides and Accidental Death.” Whenever a hotel guest permanently checks out, the cops finish an investigation, or an accidental death is reported, Smither’s crew pick up the pieces after the police cruisers and ambulances have left. Alan Emmins offers a glimpse at this little-known aspect of America’s most gruesome deaths. Filled with details as fascinating as they are gory, Mop Men examines not just the public fascination with murder but also how a self-made success like Smither can make a fortune just by praying for death.


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Neal Smither doesn’t hide his work. The side of his van reads: “Crime Scene Cleaners: Homicides, Suicides and Accidental Death.” Whenever a hotel guest permanently checks out, the cops finish an investigation, or an accidental death is reported, Smither’s crew pick up the pieces after the police cruisers and ambulances have left. Alan Emmins offers a glimpse at this little- Neal Smither doesn’t hide his work. The side of his van reads: “Crime Scene Cleaners: Homicides, Suicides and Accidental Death.” Whenever a hotel guest permanently checks out, the cops finish an investigation, or an accidental death is reported, Smither’s crew pick up the pieces after the police cruisers and ambulances have left. Alan Emmins offers a glimpse at this little-known aspect of America’s most gruesome deaths. Filled with details as fascinating as they are gory, Mop Men examines not just the public fascination with murder but also how a self-made success like Smither can make a fortune just by praying for death.

30 review for Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    "I simply will not leave a speck behind for the parents, or loved ones or whoever, to find." Neal Smither, Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc. The hotel room bathroom is covered with blood. It's everywhere. Walls, floor, fixtures, even the ceiling. Two hours later, Smither has the room clean and sparkling and ready to be used again by the next unsuspecting customer. Keep THAT in mind on your travels this summer! "...one price will clean it, disinfect it, deodorize it, and dispose of the waste." Smither got t "I simply will not leave a speck behind for the parents, or loved ones or whoever, to find." Neal Smither, Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc. The hotel room bathroom is covered with blood. It's everywhere. Walls, floor, fixtures, even the ceiling. Two hours later, Smither has the room clean and sparkling and ready to be used again by the next unsuspecting customer. Keep THAT in mind on your travels this summer! "...one price will clean it, disinfect it, deodorize it, and dispose of the waste." Smither got the idea for Crime Scene Cleaners after watching Pulp Fiction. He's quite a character; earning a living by nonchalantly mopping up brains and precious bodily fluids, while at the same time, relishing his role as a mild-mannered suburban dad. He takes pride in his work, more so than many people, I suspect. After all, a job well-done may mean repeat business. "Clean means clean. If two months down the line somebody finds a speck of blood under the handrail or some dried brain inside the lampshade, or a skull fragment in the potpourri, then you ain't getting recommended when her friend Doris's daughter slits her wrists on the living room floor, you know what I'm saying?" I will never look at potpourri the same way again... Sadly, there are a lot of problems with this book, the two biggest being: 1) There's really only enough material here for a magazine article. There are only so many ways to clean up a crime scene. (Lather, rinse, repeat...) 2) The author is kind of an a-hole. He's convinced he's just a wee bit superior to everyone - (Yes! We get it. EVERYTHING is better in Denmark!) - and this book is somehow ALL about HIM. How will HE cope with seeing so much blood? How will HE handle the smell? How will HIS life be changed when he goes back home to Denmark...The Most Perfect Place on Earth? The best things about this book, other than getting to know the philosopher Neal Smither? 1) There are no photos. 2) There are no scratch & sniff pages.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Neal Smither and his business, Crime Scene Cleaners, are great material for a book, but are they enough material? The answer is yes and no. Author Alan Emmins had enough material for a great book, but that book would have been only 60% as long as this one. Instead, he turns backflips padding his way to a bloated word count, and you can actually pinpoint the moments where he first becomes desperate and then gives up. Desperate: Beginning on page 181, he drops in a chapter on cryonics--material th Neal Smither and his business, Crime Scene Cleaners, are great material for a book, but are they enough material? The answer is yes and no. Author Alan Emmins had enough material for a great book, but that book would have been only 60% as long as this one. Instead, he turns backflips padding his way to a bloated word count, and you can actually pinpoint the moments where he first becomes desperate and then gives up. Desperate: Beginning on page 181, he drops in a chapter on cryonics--material that he had lying around from a planned magazine article that he never wrote. Giving up: Beginning on page 242, he drops in 19 tedious pages, verbatim, from a court transcript. If you are interested in this book, proceed as follows: Read all scenes where Neal Smither is on stage. Read all scenes that involve actual cleaning. Skip everything else.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    I was browsing in Barnes and Noble and this book screamed "Buy Me!!!" I, for the most part, completely ate it up. I loved hearing about the gory details and it's simply fascinating that someone has a job doing crime scene clean up. It's nothing I ever thought about before. Alan Emmins is a slick writer and I really felt like I was right there in the moment with him, discovering the crime scenes. Although I thought it was an interesting case, the multiple chapters about the man in the bathtub, slo I was browsing in Barnes and Noble and this book screamed "Buy Me!!!" I, for the most part, completely ate it up. I loved hearing about the gory details and it's simply fascinating that someone has a job doing crime scene clean up. It's nothing I ever thought about before. Alan Emmins is a slick writer and I really felt like I was right there in the moment with him, discovering the crime scenes. Although I thought it was an interesting case, the multiple chapters about the man in the bathtub, slowed down the book for me. I found myself skimming through those chapters. I also found his take on suicide to be pretty interesting. I never thought about what the different methods may reveal, but Emmins makes compelling points. I have witnessed a suicide and find the subject to be morbidly fascinating, probably another reason the subject matter of the book initially caught my interest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Journalist Alan Emmins profiles Neil Smither, the owner and CEO of Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc., in this wacky, irreverant look at the horrifyingly gruesome world of the detritus left behind from murders, accidents and suicides that happen everyday. In a nutshell, Neil's company enters the room when the CSI techs leave. In blunt words he tells how he removes baseboards to get any blood that might have seeped under them, checks for brain splatter on the ceilings, and disposes of personal effects so Journalist Alan Emmins profiles Neil Smither, the owner and CEO of Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc., in this wacky, irreverant look at the horrifyingly gruesome world of the detritus left behind from murders, accidents and suicides that happen everyday. In a nutshell, Neil's company enters the room when the CSI techs leave. In blunt words he tells how he removes baseboards to get any blood that might have seeped under them, checks for brain splatter on the ceilings, and disposes of personal effects so that families don't have to deal with the pain themselves. Its all about doing a good job. This was a fascinating read with funny scenes like one where a man reneges on paying, saying "you've already cleaned everything so what are you going to do." Neil just calmly brings all the gunk back into the house and dumps it at the man's feet. The man then offers to pay half so Neil offers to take half back to his truck. Obviously the man pays the whole bill. As graphic as many of the scenes are, Neil's compassion for people's suffering and his enduring work ethic are eloquently described by Emmins.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jan B

    A great book! The book deals with an unusual subject in a sensitive way. Graphic at times, but the author pulls back when needed with compassion and feeling for the victims. Mr. Emmins is amazed with Americans who do not take care of their neighbors or look in on their own relatives, as all of us should. I'm amazed, too. He writes of a country obsessed with CSI television that needs to be turned off. The court case throughout was especially enlightening and sad. A few quotes were more British th A great book! The book deals with an unusual subject in a sensitive way. Graphic at times, but the author pulls back when needed with compassion and feeling for the victims. Mr. Emmins is amazed with Americans who do not take care of their neighbors or look in on their own relatives, as all of us should. I'm amazed, too. He writes of a country obsessed with CSI television that needs to be turned off. The court case throughout was especially enlightening and sad. A few quotes were more British than American but we'll forgive that. Hopefully Mr. Emmins will write more books looking in on American culture. Also a great book to read to start your diet!

  6. 4 out of 5

    jacky

    Meh. Too much of it is about the author's feeble attempt at self-examination (Why am I drawn to the world of crime scene cleaners? Does that make me a bad person? Wah, wah, wah). More voyeurism and less faux introspection for me, please! Meh. Too much of it is about the author's feeble attempt at self-examination (Why am I drawn to the world of crime scene cleaners? Does that make me a bad person? Wah, wah, wah). More voyeurism and less faux introspection for me, please!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Mop Men is highly addictive – partly due to the colourful Neal Smither (owner of Crime Scene Cleaners Inc.) and his no holds barred outlook on death but mainly because of the macabre subject matter – crime scene cleaning. The topic, by nature of its title leads the mind down a path of unpleasantries but is explored in a humours, yet respectful way. Seeking common people’s perspective on death as a sidebar to the core theme was a nice tie-in to the profession and provided some basis for compariso Mop Men is highly addictive – partly due to the colourful Neal Smither (owner of Crime Scene Cleaners Inc.) and his no holds barred outlook on death but mainly because of the macabre subject matter – crime scene cleaning. The topic, by nature of its title leads the mind down a path of unpleasantries but is explored in a humours, yet respectful way. Seeking common people’s perspective on death as a sidebar to the core theme was a nice tie-in to the profession and provided some basis for comparison against those who deal with death daily and those who are entertained by the distilled serialised TV dramas which consume modern media. It was interesting to read that Emmins himself experienced a change of perspective from initial apprehension when attending a crime scene to becoming inpatient between encounters of the gory and bodily-fluid-splattered kind. The simplistic style employed by Emmins resulted in a quick easy read – light while heavy in retrospect. It’s easy to criticise the style given the emphasis on over the top punctuation and preference for laymen’s terms as apposed to catering for the literary crowd – however, this approach worked in enhancing the entertainment value of the book rather than leaving the reader feeling utterly depressed with the depiction of some of the more sadder ends to people’s lives. A key to the success of ‘Mop Men’ is that it reads like fiction with Emmins immersing himself as a core character reporting his findings on the various tag-along jobs he accompanies the Crime Scene Cleaners Inc staff. I ebb and flow was even and well paced. The distractions into Emmins personal life added to the realism and general light feel to the book. Overall, this was an enjoyable read which providing some fascinating insight into the world of crime scene cleaning – 4 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J.M.

    I expected to like this more than I did, but it grew on me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Engrossing subject matter, believe me. Hard to put down! This is a good first-person account by a narrator squeamish enough to be an "everyman" to any reader. (He regularly has to run out of jobsites to throw up.) The book focuses on three things, the first is the creator of the "Crime Scene Cleaners" business, a gifted, sometimes outrageous personality whose words and ideas easily carry the book: "This what I do, Alan. I wake up every morning and pray for death!" Second, is the author's regular Engrossing subject matter, believe me. Hard to put down! This is a good first-person account by a narrator squeamish enough to be an "everyman" to any reader. (He regularly has to run out of jobsites to throw up.) The book focuses on three things, the first is the creator of the "Crime Scene Cleaners" business, a gifted, sometimes outrageous personality whose words and ideas easily carry the book: "This what I do, Alan. I wake up every morning and pray for death!" Second, is the author's regular return to one murder and his desire to see justice done. From court transcripts and finally, local news accounts, the author is able to explore both the murder and the larger issues of justice in a culture dominated by entertainment-driven news. Finally, the book explores the author's theme of "Death as Entertainment." The idea bothers him personally, but he is convinced that death sells--indeed, already is selling on television, movies, video games, music, and other media. When he shadows the company for a month, the author must face his own hypocrisy, as he obviously intends to make money with a book that is exactly the morbid thing he wants to oppose. In this, he finds himself helplessly linked to the owner of the "Crime Scene Cleaners," as he too "prays for death" during a particularly long spell without work. However, to the narrator, the businessman is performing an incredible, even heroic service, protecting families from having to clean their teenaged son's brain matter off the wall, for example, whereas the author is merely a voyeur, a rubbernecker. I enjoyed the book very much. And reading it was much more polite and respectful than "rubbernecking" at an actual death.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A lot of stating the obvious in this one. Americans are distanced from death, dealing with it daily can make you callous, fluids from decomposing humans smell very bad etc. I was hoping for some new insight, but this just reads like a long report written by an eighth grader about his neighbor that has an exciting job cleaning crime scenes. I would like to have had more people profiled and a lot less about the author's feelings and life during the months he was going on "clean-alongs." I think th A lot of stating the obvious in this one. Americans are distanced from death, dealing with it daily can make you callous, fluids from decomposing humans smell very bad etc. I was hoping for some new insight, but this just reads like a long report written by an eighth grader about his neighbor that has an exciting job cleaning crime scenes. I would like to have had more people profiled and a lot less about the author's feelings and life during the months he was going on "clean-alongs." I think those personal notes might have been added because most of the descriptions of actual cleanups are very repetitive- spray enzymes on blood, soak up with towels, take to biohazard dump. I think that this subject sounds more interesting than it is; good for an article, not for a book. I wonder how this book would have turned out if Mary Roach had written it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Alan Emmins follows Neal Smither, founder, president, and general Grand Pooh-Bah Woo-bah of Crime Scene Cleaners, which, as you might be able to noodle out from the name, cleans crime scenes, and also scenes of suicides and natural death. As you may imagine, these scenes get, um, messy. Very messy. Not for the faint of heart (unless, of course, your heart goes pitty-pat at graphic descriptions of how maggots eat human flesh), this is nonetheless an engrossing (hm, maybe an unfortunate use of "eng Alan Emmins follows Neal Smither, founder, president, and general Grand Pooh-Bah Woo-bah of Crime Scene Cleaners, which, as you might be able to noodle out from the name, cleans crime scenes, and also scenes of suicides and natural death. As you may imagine, these scenes get, um, messy. Very messy. Not for the faint of heart (unless, of course, your heart goes pitty-pat at graphic descriptions of how maggots eat human flesh), this is nonetheless an engrossing (hm, maybe an unfortunate use of "engrossing" there, but anyway) look at an unlikely way to make a living.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    3.5 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I have read much non-fiction about forensic science and pathology. I have found the subject matter fascinating even before CSI aired its first episode. I thought this might be an interesting read. I wa interested in the legalisties, science (i.e. infection control protocols) and precedures of doing the work of cleaning body fluids from a crime scene. In this way - the book disappointed. I got interested when they were given the job of cleaning a meth lab. I wanted to know more about the dangers, I have read much non-fiction about forensic science and pathology. I have found the subject matter fascinating even before CSI aired its first episode. I thought this might be an interesting read. I wa interested in the legalisties, science (i.e. infection control protocols) and precedures of doing the work of cleaning body fluids from a crime scene. In this way - the book disappointed. I got interested when they were given the job of cleaning a meth lab. I wanted to know more about the dangers, techniques of cleaning and disposing these dangerous, volatile chemicals. However, after a cursory run through on what chemicals were used in a meth lab - the writer was dismissed from the scene due to the danger and I was left wanting more information. I agree with other reviewers in that the author put a lot of nonsense into the book to make it longer - the court transcipts were boring. I didn't even bother reading them all. This took several pages. I ended up thinking poorly of the author after reading the chapter of his non-response to a medical crisis of a woman a few feet from him in a restaurant. He admitted that he didn't want to get involved and also critiqued others who DID get involved. He just seemed like such a sad, useless little man whose whole life is writing his opinion and chatting in coffee shops in his blissful little hometown of Copenhagen. As for the proprietor of the business - he comes across as a hard working, although callous, money hungry asshole. I thought the whole book was summed up best by one of the workers, who explains to the author, "We are really just glorified janitors" Save your time and money for decent book that is respectful to the helping profession and people in general.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I was one chapter from finishing Mop Men yesterday when my condo flooded -- burst pipe from next door leaking thousands of gallons of water into my home. As I sucked up all I could with a ShopVac, all I could think was, "At least it's not blood." Alan Emmis and his subjects, Neal Smither and Crime Scene Cleaners, had me seeing the bright side. Which is funny, because the book is simultaneously about the gory and the light, the lost and the hopeful. The folks who do these jobs are both hardened an I was one chapter from finishing Mop Men yesterday when my condo flooded -- burst pipe from next door leaking thousands of gallons of water into my home. As I sucked up all I could with a ShopVac, all I could think was, "At least it's not blood." Alan Emmis and his subjects, Neal Smither and Crime Scene Cleaners, had me seeing the bright side. Which is funny, because the book is simultaneously about the gory and the light, the lost and the hopeful. The folks who do these jobs are both hardened and sympathetic, thorough and wickedly, wickedly funny. Alan, a journalist who met Neal for a magazine article and went back for more, gets a little lost en route sometimes. Mop Men is as much about him and his changing views of death as it is the company and the cleaners. It veers off track a little (with cryogenics and morticians) and feels just a bit like he was trying to fill enough pages to make it to some word count. But the rest of the stories are good enough that it doesn't really matter. I'm a huge fan of Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs, and now I know there's a job much, much nastier than he's ever tackled. And I'm pretty damn thankful there are folks out there who do it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Ferguson

    When I first saw this book I thought this would be an interesting book to read about what goes on in the world of Crime Scene Cleaners. What I didn't know is what I was getting myself into upon reading this. Alan Emmins takes you into the world of Neal Smither and his company Crime Scene Cleaners. Not only does Emmins tell of the gruesome details of cleaning a crime scene, but he manages to keep you interested at the same time. With Neal Smither's weird and sometimes jaw dropping jokes, you get t When I first saw this book I thought this would be an interesting book to read about what goes on in the world of Crime Scene Cleaners. What I didn't know is what I was getting myself into upon reading this. Alan Emmins takes you into the world of Neal Smither and his company Crime Scene Cleaners. Not only does Emmins tell of the gruesome details of cleaning a crime scene, but he manages to keep you interested at the same time. With Neal Smither's weird and sometimes jaw dropping jokes, you get the impression he is just this weird guy who loves when people die because it makes him money, but you see in parts of the book that he is more than that. He actually has a soft side to him, a decent side to him. Emmins expresses some interesting points on how our society is so fascinated with death and how we can't help ourselves to try and get at peak at a Crime Scene. He also tells how he gets sucked into the world of death and becomes engulfed in fascination when people die. And when no one dies he can't help himself, but pray for death.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    The subject of this book is Neal Smither, founder and owner of Crime Scene Cleaners in San Francisco. Neal is a hell of an interesting guy, and I've followed his career since his years-ago appearance on Dave Attell's "Insomniac." However, the book was written by a prissy, whiny, bitchy sop of an Englishman, who spent far too much time philosophizing about death, wondering if he's a bad person for his choice of subject matter, and inexplicably devoting five chapters (including dull court transcri The subject of this book is Neal Smither, founder and owner of Crime Scene Cleaners in San Francisco. Neal is a hell of an interesting guy, and I've followed his career since his years-ago appearance on Dave Attell's "Insomniac." However, the book was written by a prissy, whiny, bitchy sop of an Englishman, who spent far too much time philosophizing about death, wondering if he's a bad person for his choice of subject matter, and inexplicably devoting five chapters (including dull court transcripts) on the criminal case of one of Neal's more disgusting crime scene cleanup jobs. Who the fuck cares? I wanted to read about crime scene cleanup. A further four chapters, in a row, the writer talks about the things he did in San Francisco while Neal's business was slow. Again, could not give a fuck. Neal Smither himself told me (and others that I've noticed) that he "hated that motherfucker. Fuck 'em" (referring to the writer, Alan Emmins. That at least is a nice coda for what should have been a far better book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Interesting topic for a book as I'd never really given much thought before as to who cleans up a messy death once the crime investigators are done with the scene. Rather educational and a bit gruesome in parts. The author also explores current society's attitude towards death and for some reason seemed to keep an eye on the elections in California (not sure how relevant that was!). My only bugbear is that for a journalist, Emmins does not have a great grasp on the English language as the book is Interesting topic for a book as I'd never really given much thought before as to who cleans up a messy death once the crime investigators are done with the scene. Rather educational and a bit gruesome in parts. The author also explores current society's attitude towards death and for some reason seemed to keep an eye on the elections in California (not sure how relevant that was!). My only bugbear is that for a journalist, Emmins does not have a great grasp on the English language as the book is littered with the wrong spellings of words (steal instead of steel, waste for waist, etc) and his punctuation leaves a lot to be desired.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Esme

    This is the second book I've read about crime scene cleaners. It had the requisite gory stories and moral abiguity of making money/being curious about such a business. The main hook of the book was a case of a man who had murdered an older gentleman he was staying with and then proceeded to live in the man's apartment for a month while the body deteriorated. This led to, what I considered to be the weakest part of the book, basically a transcript of the presumed killer's pretrial hearing, which This is the second book I've read about crime scene cleaners. It had the requisite gory stories and moral abiguity of making money/being curious about such a business. The main hook of the book was a case of a man who had murdered an older gentleman he was staying with and then proceeded to live in the man's apartment for a month while the body deteriorated. This led to, what I considered to be the weakest part of the book, basically a transcript of the presumed killer's pretrial hearing, which I found to be filler, and not at all compelling. It's a shame that they couldn't have published a modestly rendered before and after photo series so we could see examples of the clean ups.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anu

    It was an interesting read, but the overwhelming amount of irrelevant stuff about the author's personal history, thoughts and feelings, and recitals of court cases & police work wasn't something I expected when I picked it up. It was an interesting read, but the overwhelming amount of irrelevant stuff about the author's personal history, thoughts and feelings, and recitals of court cases & police work wasn't something I expected when I picked it up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    Another one for my list of Jobs I Never Knew I Didn't Want: crime-scene cleanup. Every time I started to think that it sounded pretty interesting, at least as something to do between other jobs, the book landed right back in the land of maggots and shit and smells. No thanks. That being said, 'don't want the job' does not mean 'don't want to read about the job'. Of course this is interesting material: it's the gross stuff most of us don't think about. In Mop Men, Emmins does a sort of extended pr Another one for my list of Jobs I Never Knew I Didn't Want: crime-scene cleanup. Every time I started to think that it sounded pretty interesting, at least as something to do between other jobs, the book landed right back in the land of maggots and shit and smells. No thanks. That being said, 'don't want the job' does not mean 'don't want to read about the job'. Of course this is interesting material: it's the gross stuff most of us don't think about. In Mop Men, Emmins does a sort of extended profile of Neal Smither, a man who started a cleaning company that specialises in after-death situations: cleaning up blood and brain matter (and maggots and shit) and the smells left by decaying bodies. Now...Smither seems like a character, indeed. He started his business because, well, the market was there. He succeeded through sheer determination and lack of squeamishness. Unfortunately for the book, Emmins doesn't stick to Smither's story. Instead the story is half journalist's tale about a character, half journalist's whiny memoir about his own thoughts on death. Two things Emmins says. First, this: ...I used to go around my neighborhood cleaning cars for pocket money. Sometimes you'd get a really muddy mess. Even then I never really had the staying power. I'd clean the parts you could see, but that was it. I was a surface man. I noticed after a while that I knocked only on the houses that had relatively new cars on the drive, because it was so easy to make them sparkle. Of course, this isn't a good target customer for a car washer. (120)To me, this is fairly representative of the approach to writing the book. It feels as though he didn't get quite enough material on Smither, and instead of going back and really digging deeper, he stuffed in some filler for extra length. What do cryonics have to do with crime scenes? Or the ongoing story of 'the man in the bath', which Emmins returns to throughout the book—don't get me wrong, I love the idea of following one case through from start to finish. But...it's really willy-nilly. An entire chapter is devoted to a court transcript of the testimony of a journalist. Why the journalist? Why not, say, the man accused of murder? Or the people who actually investigated the crime scene? It ends up feeling as though this was what he could get without too much trouble, so this was what he stuck in. The other thing: For me, the news should be without interpretation—no, strike that, it hasto be without interpretation. What is needed is a factual rundown of the day's key events.... Commentary is great, but it is not fact; it's opinion and therefore should be part of another format. (171) Sure. I'm on board with that. But it feels a little weird to see that coming from a journalist—a journalist writing a work of nonfiction (which, granted, is different than writing the news)—a journalist writing a work of nonfiction that is chock full of interpretation and commentary and opinion (and existential angst, come to that). I love learning about something I wouldn't ordinarily think about. I love reading about something I most definitely would not care to do. I love the gory details and the weird practical concerns (like, in this case, that the baseboards have to be removed when dealing with bloodstains). There's a place for the author in that—but at the end of the day, I wanted less of the author and more of the job-specific details and stories.

  21. 5 out of 5

    CaptKirk42 Classic Whovian

    "Since hanging around with the Crime Scene Cleaners, I have been giving serious thought to the choice of method by which people put an end to their own lives, and what these methods say about them." NOTE: This review may contain SPOILERS. Mop Men: Inside The World Of Crime Scene Cleaners by Alan Emmins. This is a fascinating book. If you have ever wondered who has to clean up after a messy murder or a suicide involving blood splatter then you might want to crack open this book. The author spent a "Since hanging around with the Crime Scene Cleaners, I have been giving serious thought to the choice of method by which people put an end to their own lives, and what these methods say about them." NOTE: This review may contain SPOILERS. Mop Men: Inside The World Of Crime Scene Cleaners by Alan Emmins. This is a fascinating book. If you have ever wondered who has to clean up after a messy murder or a suicide involving blood splatter then you might want to crack open this book. The author spent a month traveling around and working with a man and his company that for a fee cleans up the blood and what-not from crime scenes and messy suicides. The author often poses philosophical questions about death, life and his views on it before and after hanging around with the Crime Scene Cleaners company. The owner of the company got the idea for his company after seeing the movie Pulp Fiction (the author mentions the movie a few times in the book). He said he was originally going to go into the mortuary business, but he wanted to do something with his life. He is quite a character, but seems to have his head and heart in the right place. If it weren't for the crime scene cleaners it would be up to the family of suicide victims, and motel cleaning staff to clean up the gory mess. The author mentions a few times that most people wouldn't be able to cope with that responsibility. At first the book seems to be a sort of behind the scenes look at the business of cleaning up after messy suicides and murders. It soon becomes a cross between that and a mini-autobiography of the author with a little bit of drama tossed in. There are a few areas where the book drags, but maybe it was just that I took a bit of time reading this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    A good book, but not the best I've read on the topic. The writing was fine and the subject matter made interesting, there was just something missing that I can't put my finger on. Part of it was the author himself, who seemed to be making the book more about him than the company. I understood he was a journalist from another country with no experience in viewing crime scenes prior to working on this piece, but he kept reminding readers and using up space that should have been about Crime Scene Cl A good book, but not the best I've read on the topic. The writing was fine and the subject matter made interesting, there was just something missing that I can't put my finger on. Part of it was the author himself, who seemed to be making the book more about him than the company. I understood he was a journalist from another country with no experience in viewing crime scenes prior to working on this piece, but he kept reminding readers and using up space that should have been about Crime Scene Cleaners. I'd have rather it been a collaborative effort between Emmins and someone from the company. Use Emmins' writing abilities in conjunction with the hands-on experience of the employee. Not that Emmins' didn't get hands on, but without knowing what to look for, I don't think his depictions of the work were as good as they could have been. One of my favorite parts of the book was the continuing saga of The Man in the Bathtub, where Emmins heard from one of the guys he shadowed about a cleanup he did in a home where the man appeared to be murdered by a houseguest and the body was left in the bathtub to rot while the houseguest went about his life using the deceased's apartment. While Emmins didn't partake in the cleanup, he used downtime to investigate the crime and subsequent trial of the houseguest. This book may have been better if Emmins had stuck with that route, combining the stories of the cleanup with the investigation into how the person ended up in such a state to require a cleanup.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I was not sure what to expect from this book. Would it be one gruesome story after another about crime scene clean up? How can that stay interesting for 300 pages? If was definitely more than that. It was almost as if the clean up and the gore was the side story, and the real story was about the people doing the clean up, the characters Alan met along the way, and the back story of victim. We never think about who cleans up after us when we die. There are so many ways to die, and they can all be a I was not sure what to expect from this book. Would it be one gruesome story after another about crime scene clean up? How can that stay interesting for 300 pages? If was definitely more than that. It was almost as if the clean up and the gore was the side story, and the real story was about the people doing the clean up, the characters Alan met along the way, and the back story of victim. We never think about who cleans up after us when we die. There are so many ways to die, and they can all be a bit messy. The Crime Scene Cleaners are a unique bunch, but demonstrate a bit of compassion and care for the families and businesses they do the work for. It takes a special personality to clean up brain matter, and keep a great attitude about their job. Neal, the owner, is a quirky one, and has his own theories on why people do what they do, and how he keeps doing what he does. One of the most interesting parts of this book is the "mystery" of the man who dies and is left in a bathtub. The author takes you through the clean up, the back story and even the court case and follow up. I wont give away the details, but it would make a good book all on its own. Its odd to use the word "enjoy" - like saying "I enjoyed this book," as I think enjoy is not quite the right word, but I really did like reading this book, as gruesome as it got at points. I really hope this author dares to venture out into the odd again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christiane

    Who cleans up after a car wreck, suicide, or murder? Not the police...and hopefully not the grieving family. This book focuses on Neal Smither, head of California-based Crime Scene Cleaners Inc. Smither mainly comes across as a big asshole, but he managed to take an idea that everyone scoffed at and turn it into a highly profitable business. And he’s still right in there scrubbing the blood off the walls alongside his employees. Journalist Emmins, who lives in almost crime-free Denmark (he is rel Who cleans up after a car wreck, suicide, or murder? Not the police...and hopefully not the grieving family. This book focuses on Neal Smither, head of California-based Crime Scene Cleaners Inc. Smither mainly comes across as a big asshole, but he managed to take an idea that everyone scoffed at and turn it into a highly profitable business. And he’s still right in there scrubbing the blood off the walls alongside his employees. Journalist Emmins, who lives in almost crime-free Denmark (he is relieved to think he is highly unlikely to ever need Smither’s services) is the reader’s eye and ear (and nose) into the grisly world of death scenes and he does so with a journalist’s eye and a layperson’s stomach. Along the way Emmins has to grapple with our modern culture of death, where as Smither’s puts it “Gore sells, my friend.” There are a few digressions in the book that made me a little impatient (including a visit to a cryonics facility) since Smither’s is such a larger than life character he can carry the whole book himself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Call me a rubbernecker, go ahead, but I liked it! This isn't start-to-finish gore and one messy cleanup after another, though there is enough of that going on. As Emmins follows a crime scene cleaner through several weeks at his job he takes the time to inspect his own attitudes about death. Would he ever kill himself? How would he like to go? What part does media play in our attitudes toward crime-related death? How do I want my body disposed of? I didn't feel guilty about being fascinated by th Call me a rubbernecker, go ahead, but I liked it! This isn't start-to-finish gore and one messy cleanup after another, though there is enough of that going on. As Emmins follows a crime scene cleaner through several weeks at his job he takes the time to inspect his own attitudes about death. Would he ever kill himself? How would he like to go? What part does media play in our attitudes toward crime-related death? How do I want my body disposed of? I didn't feel guilty about being fascinated by the misfortune of others because there was enough other stuff in there to think about. The owner of Crime Scene Cleaners is quite a character and the reader is able to get a glimpse of what drives him and his employees to do what they do. I recommend this to anyone interested. It's a pretty quick read and doesn't take heavy concentration, but it still gives you something to think about and helps form or solidify your attitudes about some things.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Danish magazine writer does a feature story on Crime Scene Cleaners, which leads him to a book deal to write more about a business called Crime Scene Cleaners based out of San Francisco, California. For the most part, I liked the book and found it interesting reading. What turned me off of this book was the narrator / author's diversions into other things. For example, he inexplicably writes about visiting a cryonics facility and comparing them to a cult group; this is a topic that only tangen A Danish magazine writer does a feature story on Crime Scene Cleaners, which leads him to a book deal to write more about a business called Crime Scene Cleaners based out of San Francisco, California. For the most part, I liked the book and found it interesting reading. What turned me off of this book was the narrator / author's diversions into other things. For example, he inexplicably writes about visiting a cryonics facility and comparing them to a cult group; this is a topic that only tangentially is related to death and not at all to crime scene clean-up. He also goes on for five or six chapters about a case he refers to as the Bathtub Man, which was just too long. Another reviewer wrote that it seemed like he was just throwing anything in to get to the minimum word count or page number and it surely feels like that. I liked this book, just wished the author would stay on topic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    3 1/2 stars A little too much fluff and not enough death. Sorry, call me morbid (blame my Scorpion tendencies), but I'm interested in everything about it. I wanted to read this book after an incident where a body was found in the garage of our vacation home several years ago. It was rolled up in carpet, and blood had seeped out all over the floor. My poor brother, who lives in the other side of the duplex, had to clean it up. The police said it wasn't their job. Well if it ever happens again (God 3 1/2 stars A little too much fluff and not enough death. Sorry, call me morbid (blame my Scorpion tendencies), but I'm interested in everything about it. I wanted to read this book after an incident where a body was found in the garage of our vacation home several years ago. It was rolled up in carpet, and blood had seeped out all over the floor. My poor brother, who lives in the other side of the duplex, had to clean it up. The police said it wasn't their job. Well if it ever happens again (God forbid!) now I know who to call! It's hard to believe there is such a job, but somebody's got to do it. Cleaning up after dead people obviously takes a certain mindset, and, surprisingly, as much as I like to read about death and all the aspects involved, I do NOT have it. Although the stories the author did write about were interesting and the writing style was enjoyable, I was slightly bored by the in between.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Smith

    Well, certainly this wasn't something I had thought about before! learning new stuff is all important and this kind of fits the bill. It is a very entertaining, easy read. Emmins has done a great job articulating the month or so that he spent with one individual (and his company) who cleans up crime scenes, suicide scenes and generally horrible clean up jobs. As I say, entertaining and amazing what these guys have to put up with. The story is well told with one in particular that runs through th Well, certainly this wasn't something I had thought about before! learning new stuff is all important and this kind of fits the bill. It is a very entertaining, easy read. Emmins has done a great job articulating the month or so that he spent with one individual (and his company) who cleans up crime scenes, suicide scenes and generally horrible clean up jobs. As I say, entertaining and amazing what these guys have to put up with. The story is well told with one in particular that runs through the whole book covering the crime, the clean up and the subsequent court case. Although fascinating I am not sure that the knowledge I gained gave me any greater insight into life in general and it's end in particular but I am not sure that was the point! Certainly worth reading if you have any morbid fascination with this topic which, obviously, I do!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laren

    After shadowing the owner of a cleaning company specializing in crime scenes, suicides and other unusual cleaning situations, the author writes a magazine article about it. But upon reflection, he starts to feel that he might have missed the real story, so he goes back to investigate more intensely, and this book is the result. The author paints clear portraits of the people he shadows, and the book provides a glimpse into several different scenarios from their daily world. Less successful are th After shadowing the owner of a cleaning company specializing in crime scenes, suicides and other unusual cleaning situations, the author writes a magazine article about it. But upon reflection, he starts to feel that he might have missed the real story, so he goes back to investigate more intensely, and this book is the result. The author paints clear portraits of the people he shadows, and the book provides a glimpse into several different scenarios from their daily world. Less successful are the parts where the author veers slightly off topic, such as the chapter on cryonics or his personal reflections on how the experience has changed him. Regardless, it was an interesting read into something that you might not think too much about.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    Spectacularly engrossing! Alan Emmins was a joy to read; a witty, brutal joy to read. I almost forgot about the reality of what I was reading, and ended up reading while at lunch, an absolute mistake!! Images of liquified remains stopped me mid-spoonful (I was eating soup!). While Arnold runs for governor and Jon Stewart cracks jokes, Alan learns what the death business is all about from Neal Smither, the charismatic President of Crime Scene Cleaners. From funeral directors to curious gangbanger Spectacularly engrossing! Alan Emmins was a joy to read; a witty, brutal joy to read. I almost forgot about the reality of what I was reading, and ended up reading while at lunch, an absolute mistake!! Images of liquified remains stopped me mid-spoonful (I was eating soup!). While Arnold runs for governor and Jon Stewart cracks jokes, Alan learns what the death business is all about from Neal Smither, the charismatic President of Crime Scene Cleaners. From funeral directors to curious gangbangers and cops on the beat, Alan Emmins delivers an intrepid assessment of the ensanguined world of crime scene cleaning.

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