books about Spilsbury




As a biography, The Father of Forensics is not entirely successful: Evans never really gets beneath the skin of this remarkable man to reveal what drove him. But as an account of Spilsbury's contribution to forensic medicine it is excellent. Evans is a vivid and compelling narrator with - excuse the phrase - a forensic eye for detail. The accounts of the murders Spilsbury investigated are fascinating meditations on man's inhumanity to man or, more often than not, woman.

PD Smith 2008. The Guardian (read the full review here)




The picture drawn of him in this book is a damning one. He is allowed few virtues, and even the fact that he earned little in his career is not attributed either to a vocation or a sense of public duty, while a couple of occasions when his fees seemed a little on the high side are drawn attention to. In other words, the book is prosecutorial in tone.

The book is highly readable, however, and is not only entertaining, but will serve as a useful miniatory parable for expert witnesses and trial lawyers alike.

Theodore Dalrymple 2007. The Spectator (read the full review here)

Lethal Witness will be a guilty pleasure for aficionados of the era in which body parts were wrapped up in paper and string, of Dr Crippen and the Brighton Trunk Murders. It is more than period drama, though. It is an impressive exploration of a chapter in a longer story, of courtroom science as a drama of authority, that is far from over.

Marek Kohn 2007. The Independent (read the full review here)

Spilsbury should be assessed by the standards of his day, as Rose warns: "He must not be judged with the wisdom of hindsight." Rose reveals that by the early 1930s some experts were already concerned about him. But since Rose numbers among his contacts Bernard Knight, an emeritus professor of forensic pathology and former consultant forensic pathologist to the Home Office, he understandably breaks his hindsight rule on occasion: Knight's opinion is sought in the quest to "solve" some of these old mysteries and to show just how far off the mark Spilsbury could be.

Sarah Wise 2007. The Telegraph (read the full review here)

The magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the brides in the bath. Robins J. John Murray Publishers 2010

Buy it here ...


Jane Robins tackles the case with gusto, linking it with the genesis of forensic science and casting Spilsbury as her hero. But her title is misleading, as the pathologist doesn't take centre-stage. Instead we have a gripping retelling of the crime against a backdrop of the Titanic, Suffragettes and the First World War, highlighting the social context that allowed a psychopath to manipulate eight women, wed seven, defraud six and kill three.

Marianne Brace 2010 (Read the rest of her review here)

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