Bloodstains and Ball Gowns

My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner

Non-Fiction - True Crime
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 06/29/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Donna Nayler is an author, hair stylist, lover of fashion and a crime scene cleaner. She has worked in death services for many years. Her biography Bloodstains and Ball gowns is her first novel. Written on the road while she attended scenes of crimes in her profession. Published by InHouse Publishing with another projecting compiling for a later release.
Born in the United Kingdom and raised in Australia, with her twin Sister, Mother and Father.
She is currently living on the Gold Coast with her two Chihuahua's Boy and Girl.

    Book Review

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.

Faridah Nassozi

Whenever we hear the words 'crime scene', our minds go right away to two things; the victims and the detectives solving the crime. The one thing we never think about is who cleans up the mess left behind the violent and unexpected end to one's life. In her book titled Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner, Donna Nayler takes you behind the police tape as she shares her life as a forensic cleaner. Having quit school as a teenager, Donna entered the job market early, but she struggled to find her footing. For a long time she worked jobs she was not passionate about until she discovered crime scene cleaning. Entering into this world both terrified and excited her and now she shares her experiences. From one job to the next, Donna shares illuminating details about the crime scenes, the victims, the families left behind, and her role in it all.

Without revealing private details about the clients she has worked for, Donna Nayler shares her intimate journey in the exclusive world of crime scene cleaning with detail and depth. Donna's story goes beyond the crime scenes and the victims. It is a story of her personal journey and the lasting impact the different jobs left on her life. From the crime scenes, she learned details about the victims' lives and those details often had her reflecting on her own life. The lessons she learned from these jobs are invaluable. To Donna, her job in the dark world of violent deaths and messy crime scenes is not a mere meal ticket, but rather a way to give those left behind a chance to move on with life.

Jack Magnus

Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner is a nonfiction memoir written by Donna Nayler. The author had left school a year early to get immersed in life as a wage-earner, but her initial forays into the world of hairdressing left her disenchanted at the age of twenty-five. She just couldn't muster enough interest in what her clients were saying as she worked on their hair. Nayler then decided to see if her interest in the dark side of life could be turned into a paying job. The TV show, Crime Investigation, resonated with her and gave her the idea to become a crime scene cleaner. Those jobs were hard to come by, but they were very well-paid, and it seemed something for which she'd be well-suited. A call to the largest crime-scene cleaning company in Australia led to an interview an hour later, and her new career was set to begin.

Donna Nayler's nonfiction true-crime memoir, Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner, is a well-written and fact-based collection of the author's experiences as a crime scene cleaner. I was impressed by the author's ability to get past the gore and occasional squalor and retain some measure of compassion for those lives which were abruptly cut short or that dwindled away with no one there to notice. While Nayler gives the reader a full account of the kinds of tasks a crime scene cleaner must perform, the reader can't help but feel the author's pain, especially when she was relating working on crime scenes where domestic violence ended in brutal and bloody death. Her story is compelling and often fascinating, and while I'd not recommend reading it while eating, it's bound to answer lots of questions about that most unusual profession. Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner is recommended reading.

Marta Tandori

“The longer a body is left unattended, the more fluids it releases. First, waste, then fatty fluids along with some blood. After that, the decomposition sets in.” These three innocuous sentences pretty much sum up the gruesome nature of Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: My Life as a Crime Scene Cleaner by Donna Nayler as she recounts her career as a crime scene cleaner.

A high school dropout, the author grew up amid the sparkling lights of Australia’s Gold Coast, beginning a career as a hairdresser at age 17. By age twenty-five, Nayler had had enough of hairdressing and was drawn to the death services trade, getting her big break a short time later when she entered the crime scene cleanup industry. Hardly surprising, only a handful of companies offered the service in Australia. In a tightly-guarded industry where enzyme solution and disinfectant are a girl’s best friends, Nayler perfected her clean up skills on everything from drug labs to violent homicides to hoarder hell-holes, dealing with the aftermath of natural deaths and body putrefaction to the not-so-natural ones, where pools of blood and dried arterial splatter tell their horrific tales in nauseating technicolor.

Nayler states that she speaks for the dead and for what the dead have left behind. Anyone who reads Bloodstains and Ball Gowns is sure to agree. Unfortunately, what becomes very evident from Nayler’s story is that the dead leave behind more often than not shattered families, feuding relatives and greedy hangers-on, hoping to cash in on the ill-fortune of the deceased. What was particularly interesting about Nayler’s book was that so much could be gleaned about the deceased and the way they lived and died just by stepping inside the front door of their home. Let’s face it, toxic gases and foul smells aplenty are not for the weak of stomach, and being a crime scene cleaner certainly isn’t a calling for most, but thanks to the author’s frank honesty in Bloodstains and Ball Gowns, we readers have front row seats in the splatter zone, so to speak – the closest most of us will ever get to a real life crime scene, thank God!