The Father of Forensics: The Groundbreaking Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and the Beginnings of Modern CSI

The Father of Forensics: The Groundbreaking Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and the Beginnings of Modern CSI

by Colin Evans

His name was Bernard Spilsbury-and, through his use of cutting-edge science, he single-handedly brought criminal investigations into the modern age.

This is the fascinating story of the life and work of Bernard Spilsbury, history's greatest medical detective-and of the cases that not only made him a celebrity, but also inspired the astonishing science of criminal investigation in our own time.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Crime
  • Rating: 4.02
  • Pages: 326
  • Publish Date: August 1st 2006 by Berkley Trade
  • Isbn10: 0425210073
  • Isbn13: 9780425210079

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Bernard Spillsbury (1877-1947) was a British pathologist who in addition became a crime scene investigator and expert witness. Although Spillsbury's press reputation as infallible was an exaggeration, and although in one prominent case (the death of Rosaline Fox, which he attributed to strangulation that other experts could not see the evidence for) he may well have been mistaken, in general he appears to have been an honest and most conscientious (if stubborn) investigator. Expert witnesses also began testifying for both sides of the case.

When it came to court he treated the Jury well, he explained things using words they would understand and at times did experiments to show what happened. The book is well written, each chapter starts off giving you a bit of background on what was happening in the world at the time, this gives a nice timeframe of when the cases were being investigated.

I guess he was pretty amazing at the time, and in England. Is that the right word?) and yes, no doubt ahead of his time, and I'm sure we are grateful today for many of the techniques he developed, I found they rather glossed over the bit in the beginning where they said England was pretty much behind everywhere else when he arrived on the scene. And I did find it especially interesting how the book discussed how crime began to change ...

Now the book is about forensics and its movement from almost pseudo science to the powerful legal tool kit kit is today, however even though the author makes the point that there is little known or published about Bernard Spilsbury this book acts almost as a professional biography.

He developed items like the murder bag that had all the necessary instrument in that a pathologist would need at a crime scene, and he kept detailed records of every case that he worked on.

Bernard Spilsbury was a huge player in forensics and crime for a wealth of reasons - and not just his pathology, though that was his area of expertise and employment. Each chapter looks at one of Spilsbury's most famous cases, and puts it in the context of any major scientific developments or achievements Spilsbury reached through the case, what the greater significance of the case was to forensics, science, or law, and to Spilsbury's career and life (though spoiler alert his career was his life, essentially).

Like many Victorian men, he threw himself into his work wholeheartedly and became a leader in the developing field of forensic pathology.