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I recently finished reading "Gone Girl" and, although I enjoyed it, there is a part of the story that sounded kind of weird for me, and it kind of keeps bothering me.

Amy starts planning everything a year before "the day of". As part of her plan, she writes some diaries simulating diary entries which were supposed to be 6 years old. If there were a forensic way of determining the age of the diaries they could have known that Nick was telling the truth, even if the method was not very precise, the difference between 1 and 6 is huge.

In real life, would this be a plot hole or there is no way the police could find out such a thing?

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  • Did they have reason enough to initiate a complex forensic analysis of the diary, though? Just because you can to something at MIT doesn't necessarily mean the police will go to these lengths without sufficient doubt. May 28 '20 at 14:55
  • @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach It is presumably a case of murder, the leading detective suspected there was something wrong with the case, seemed predisposed to think that Nick was hiding things but was not a murderer... I understand they wouldn't invest millions in resources for such a thing, but that is my question, if it is reasonable and feasible police work in a big case such as a murder.
    – David
    May 28 '20 at 15:02
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I don't believe so:

  1. Checking document age is a very tricky thing and it is very imprecise. Tests can with a certain dose of precision say is the document a 200 years old authentic or a modern forgery, but to determine has the text been written 1 or 6 years ago... not so much. For example, you can order a test at this private company here, which can analyse the structure of the paper. I seriously doubt that the mass produced notebook from 6 years ago would be much different than one from 1 year ago:

While exact age dating of papers is not possible, the process is often able to exclude samples as being made in the time period of question.

  1. The age of the document can be forged (or at least obscured) quite easily - all you need to do is get it pretty dirty and all the chemical analysis is suddenly very uncertain.

  2. Police officer couldn't just go and order a top-tech NASA/MIT document analysis without going through her supervisors. Such things are costly and somebody has to pay for it.

  3. Even if such tests would exist, supervisors would agree to them, they would be probably useless in court because both sides could prove how easily they can be manipulated.

So in short, the forgery was quite convenient and there was no point (or most likely the ability) to check its age.

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