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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and fantastic insight into criminal pathology
Professor Keith Simpson's evocative descriptions of how to determine the cause, time, place, method and sometimes motive of a corpse is mind blowing to say the least. The book describes his life as one of Britain's first criminal pathologists, frequently describing actual cases and how various conclusions were reached. At times throughout the book a strong stomach is...
Published on 28 April 2000

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing reprint
I bought an old copy of Forty Years of Murder by Professor Kieth Simpson from a charity shop and enjoyed it so much that I strove to replace it with a new copy that I could keep.
The copy I received from Amazon had been published by Headline instead of Grafton, and the text looked as if it had been badly photocopied from the original. Furthermore, the original...
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by Old but discriminating


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and fantastic insight into criminal pathology, 28 April 2000
By A Customer
Professor Keith Simpson's evocative descriptions of how to determine the cause, time, place, method and sometimes motive of a corpse is mind blowing to say the least. The book describes his life as one of Britain's first criminal pathologists, frequently describing actual cases and how various conclusions were reached. At times throughout the book a strong stomach is necessary, but how do you describe terrible deeds without horrible facts? I just could not put the book down until I had finished it and then only started to re-read the whole thing again. Especially recommended for the "True Life Murder" brigade and anyone interested in forensic pathology.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prof. Keith Simpson - forty years of murder, 21 Mar 2006
This book is an amazing look over the work and experience of Keith Simpson. I can thoroughly recommend the book to anyone with even a passing interest in forensics! Whilst covering some gruesome topics, you will find a few light hearted entries here and there. I was lucky enough to attend some of his 'special' presentations at Guy's Hospital Medical School, where he took no little delight in shocking his audience with graphic photographs! Actually a real gentleman, he signed a copy of his book for me shortly after it was published.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 11 Feb 2007
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Julie Burgess (Essex) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed this book. I am very interested in pathology and Keith Simpson is one of the best. I would be very proud to say I had solved as many mysteries as Simpson has in his work. Very good book for all sorts of reasons. If you have a weak stomach, then this book is probably not a good idea
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very intriguing read, 16 July 2008
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Kick-Azz-Angel "sherlizz" (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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read this book in 1980, reccommended to me by my boss (a professor in Histology and Pathology) who had picked up a copy when he was in London for a congress. I bought it and well... I was more than intrigued by it. I read it in less than 2 days, just couldn't put it away.
Forensic pathology is very popular these days. Back in 1980 it wasn't a subject displayed in dozens of tv-series.
Made it even more interesting, by the way. Makes the imagination run wild.
My copy is nowhere to be found alas, so I bought another one today. Can't wait for it to arrive. I'm sure I will dive into forensics matters again with a lot of GUSTO! (GRIN). A breathless absorbing read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not too little and not too much, 21 Jun 2010
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Mr. C. L. Newcombe (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forty Years of Murder (Paperback)
I first read Forty Years of Murder back in 1987 and I have read and re-read it many times since. My original copy finally fell apart earlier this year and I bought a replacement, through Amazon of course, simply because it is such a good read. For a modern generation who think solving crime is just a matter of matching DNA this book would be an eye opener, for the more seasoned reader it shows how finding a killer was done the hard way. Sad, gruesome, fascinating but always entertaining Forty Years of Murder is from the top draw of true crime and well worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The true history behind modern crime fiction & TV, 30 April 2013
By 
Marie (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forty Years of Murder (Paperback)
Professor Keith Simpson was the first Professor of Forensic Medicine at Guy's hospital in London, and began his career as a forensic pathologist in the 1930s and 40s. He worked on countless high-profile murder cases for the Home Office and Scotland Yard, involving criminals who have now become infamous, such as the Kray twins and Lord Lucan.

By far the most fascinating aspect of this book is the detail about the history of forensic medicine. Anybody who reads a lot of crime fiction or watches CSI would think Simpson was working in a completely different world. These days it is easy to think that a murderer can be convicted on the basis of a DNA match from a cheek swab that takes 5 seconds to do. But back in wartime Britain the technology to do that didn't exist and it was infinitely more difficult to prove someone guilty. Simpson pioneered techniques that we take for granted today, such as forensic odontology (identifying a criminal from bite marks left on the victim). He also had to demonstrate the quick intelligence to explain and justify his conclusions in court.

His writing style can come across as a bit smug and self-congratulatory, and that did grate at times, but to be fair his achievements are truly astounding. I was amazed to read that on one occasion he was able to prove murder had taken place through identifying a single gall stone in a pile of rubble (with only the naked eye) after the rest of the body had been dissolved in acid.

As well as learning about the roots of forensic pathology you get a real insight into how much society in general has changed over the years. A large number of the criminals mentioned in this book were eventually hanged, and it's also interesting to read about how many got off scot-free because of a lack of hard evidence in court. Without the concrete proof provided by DNA tests etc., a conviction could rest solely on the pathologist's clinical deductions and reasoning, and it was often possible for the defence to pick holes in his logic. I was also amused to see how much society's attitudes towards doctors have changed. Simpson discusses a case in which he proved the innocence of a doctor who had been accusing of killing his patient for monetary gain. He dismisses this as a possible motive:
"She had left an estate of £157,000, out of which the doctor received an old Rolls Royce and a chest containing silver valued at £275...hardly a rich legacy!"
I imagine concerns might certainly be raised these days if a GP inherited a car and a chest of silver from one of his patients! On the other hand, Simpson also talks about doctors who got into trouble after prescribing morphine and sedatives for palliation of their terminally ill patients. When you consider the fuss that has recently been kicked up in the press about palliative care and the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway, it seems that maybe not so much has changed after all.

So of course, this is a book chock-full of gruesome stories and grisly details, and if you are of a squeamish disposition then I'd steer well clear. But anybody who is a fan of crime fiction - particularly with a forensic/pathological theme, such as the novels of Tess Gerritsen or Patricia Cornwell - would do well to track down a copy as it is a really interesting read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The birth of Pathology in the UK., 20 Oct 2002
By 
Lucy Reynolds "Lucy" (West Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
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There are countless "true life pathology" books which detail modern cases, mostly in the US.
This book, though shares a genre with the above, is worlds away from the hi-tech accounts mentioned above. Dr Keith Simpson tells of the crimes occuring during the 1930's onwards, when criminal pathology was a new concept in the UK.
It's an excellent read for anyone with a strong stomach!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars factual book, 29 Mar 2011
This review is from: Forty Years of Murder (Paperback)
brilliant book if you are interested in forensics or police books then read this it is very interesting and difficult to put down.the author misses nothing out and you almost feel that you are part of the event.it is a little gruesome in parts but it is told as it was, so it makes for excellant reading
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wife's birthday present, 17 Feb 2011
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Mr (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forty Years of Murder (Paperback)
My wife usually only reads fiction but, as her prefered subject is murder and crime solving through forensics, I thought I'd give this book a try. She was hooked and completed it in three evenings. It got the thumbs up partly because the Prof. was involved in the infancy of forensic science and partly due the famous cases that he describes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for a reason, 26 April 2010
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Diane Rhodes (Pembrokeshire West Wales) - See all my reviews
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In the age when any z list celeb who has lived neither a decent or interesting life produces an autobiography it is still gratifying to know that superb autobiographies still exist. This is one of the best as Professor Simpson had a talent for writing almost as good as for pathology. I first read this many years ago and I literally could not put it down, since then it has been re-read many times. For those who think CSI is forensic pathology then read this book and see how it was done originally. Can't recommend this book highly enough and at 1p a total bargain.
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Forty Years of Murder
Forty Years of Murder by Prof. Keith Simpson (Paperback - 1 July 2008)
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