Mayhew’s delight in detailing process — alongside a high tolerance for acronyms — marks the few moments in the book where a skittish reader threatens to balk. But in the end, she wins you over. When all that data collection gives birth to a field manual on how to dispose of dead bodies, a vital guide for survivors of an earthquake, her enthusiasm makes sense. One is filled with respect for an Indonesian army that, when confronted with the unprecedented challenge of burying 170,000 bodies on the island of Aceh in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, kept painstaking records of how many, where and by whom. The devil lies in the detail, but in this first-class example of popular science Mayhew demonstrates that’s also where salvation lies.