Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Father of Forensics by Colin Evans

Before CSI, there was one man who saw beyond the crime, and into the future of forensic science. He was once one of the most famous people in Britain, and, through his use of cutting-edge science, Bernard Spilsbury single-handedly brought criminal investigations into the modern age. Starting out as a charismatic physician in the early 20th century, Spilsbury shook up the English justice system and hit the headlines, garnering a reputation as a real-life Sherlock Holmes. He uncovered evidence others missed, stood above his peers in the field of crime reconstruction, exposed discrepancies between witness testimony and factual evidence, and most importantly, convicted dozens of murderers with hard-nosed, scientific proof.

Killers who would have escaped punishment pre-Spilsbury began to drop through the hangman's trap-door. 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.

Saw this book of The Peeb's at my gran's house. She'd borrowed it and had just finished reading it, so I quickly swiped it so I could read it before she gave it back ;)

It was certainly an interesting read. Not especially gripping in a murder-mystery kinda way. And I didn't come away feeling like this guy was *that* amazing. I guess he was pretty amazing at the time, and in England. But it felt like saying he was The Father of Forensics was a bit of a stretch. It read more like he was The Father of Expert Witness Testimony. While it does sound like he was a good pathologist (? 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.

Guess it was one of those perfect timing situations. The right person with the forthright personality in the right place at the right time. It still is a pretty fascinating read. I suppose we forget how many people most probably got away with crimes even a mere 100 years ago. And I did find it especially interesting how the book discussed how crime began to change ... from people who knew each other (mostly it sounded like people marrying and then offing each other for money) to more random / stranger crimes.

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