Father of Forensics

I liked this book a lot, so much so that i was attempting to explain complex medical junk to B while watching his eyes glaze over. Somehow, i alway manage to overestimate everyone else's interest in forensics, especially old school cases. Everyone isn't familiar with Dr. Crippen? Impossible! The definition of adipocere isn't universally known? Crazyness! "Archaeology of Death" isn't a required college class? *shakes head*

The Father of Forensics: The Groundbreaking Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury and the Beginnings of Modern CSI by Colin Evans is very good. I had never heard of him and I've read a lot of books about forensics, going back to my college curriculum. And yes, i did take "Archaeology of Death". As he's British and began working at the turn of the 20th century i suppose that may be why i wasn't familiar with him.

Spilsbury was a great pathologist but a superb witness. Previously, medical experts had lectured or talked down to juries, which juries, of course, didn't react well to. Spilsbury explained, in regular language, what he found in his autopsies. He made sure the prosecution, or the defense, passed pictures of the injuries he spoke of. In one trial he asked for a microscope to show the jury slides of a bruise, as well as comparison slides of how normal skin looks. His expertise and style lead directly to convictions, as well as acquittals when he sided with the defense.

You do feel sorry for Spilsbury at several points. He's a quintessential workaholic, achieving great fame and prestige as a medical mind, even being knighted. Those achievements didn't lead to a comfortable finanical situation or happy home life. Like many Britains during that time he lost family members to the Great War and World War 2. By the end of his life, even the cases had changed, moving from crimes of passion or money to child murders and serial killers. As a true story, the end is particularly shocking.

I give this one a 6. It isn't for everyone as i know some people would find it boring. The book isn't graphic so those with sensitive stomachs shouldn't worry.


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