Once is not enough. That’s why CSI is a franchise, and why loyal fans will dive into CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion. Proving that dead body parts make for compelling reading as well as TV, this slick Companion details plot summaries of each episode from the show’s first three seasons, all with an accompanying sidebar. Based on interviews with actors, writers and crew members, it’s the handiwork of journalist Mike Flaherty and CSI associate producer Corinne Marrinan, Even creator Anthony E. Zuiker contributes this scary insight: “We have better instrumentation on our set than most crime labs in America.”
Though wordy, the inside look at production and character development will appeal to die-hard fans, especially since CSI’s writers strive to keep it a “procedural show.” Characters’ personal lives are off-limits. “We don’t go home with them,” says Marrinan, “and that keeps everyone hungry about what makes these people tick.” Plus, chapter heads, named for episodes, reflect CSI’s quirky style: “Crate ’n Burial,” “Sex, Lies and Larvae” and “To Halve and To Hold.”
But the real pleasure is perusing case files interspersed throughout the 300-page opus. Re-created to look like actual police folders from CSI investigations, each was painstakingly assembled from show props, such as photos, newspaper clippings, receipts and evidence samples.
Marrinan and the show’s props department spent more than 18 months compiling art for the folders—50% from actual show objects, the rest from freeze-framed photos from key episodes.
Graphically, the book is beautiful. The show’s computer-graphics team and art department churned out colorful crime-scene photos that pop. And publisher Simon & Schuster chipped in with high-quality paper.
“They went all out for us,” says Marrinan, who serves as brand manager for every product in the CSI commercial empire. In addition to the $24 book, the show has spawned DVDs, novels, comic books, puzzles, board games and PC games. Who says crime doesn’t pay?