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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder on the Home Front
Molly Lefebure was secretary to the acclaimed forensic pathologist, Dr Keith Simpson, during WWII. This memoir was originally published in 1954 and this welcome reprint is apparently due to the book being televised shortly. Judging by the book, I am sure the television series will be very successful, as this is a wonderful read, with an endearing and charming narrator...
Published 15 months ago by S Riaz

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A suitable career for a lady?
I'm not sure why this book has lingered in obscurity for most of it's life...seen as a counterpoint to Keith Simpson's "Forty Years of Murder" it has to have some interest on that score alone.

I thought it was an interesting account of a young lady of her times, breaking with convention and taking up a most unusual occupation at the time...it was never...
Published 4 months ago by Cogidubnus


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder on the Home Front, 19 Mar 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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Molly Lefebure was secretary to the acclaimed forensic pathologist, Dr Keith Simpson, during WWII. This memoir was originally published in 1954 and this welcome reprint is apparently due to the book being televised shortly. Judging by the book, I am sure the television series will be very successful, as this is a wonderful read, with an endearing and charming narrator. Before becoming private secretary to Dr Simpson, Miss Lefebure was a young reporter. However, despite her youth, she was eager to take up her new position and threw herself into non-stop post mortems, coroner's courts, visits to Scotland Yard, prisons, hospitals, tenements and endless bodies. Bodies, she says calmly, "talk". It is fair to say that Miss Lefebure certainly talks for them - her style is chatty, breezy and informal. She obviously gloried in her job and undertook even the most gruesome tasks with calm fortitude.

During this book we hear of many of the cases which Molly Lefebure attended. There are murders - some tragic, some interesting, some sordid and sad. We follow the redoubtable Miss Lerebure as she visits filthy slums, careers down London streets clinging to the back of a jeep, dodges bombs, attends executions and trials. In her chapter about "the gentle art of hanging", her previous career as a journalist leads her to support the press in their feeding and stimulating the public appetite for murders and hangings - the public, she says wisely, "get the kind of newspapers it deserves". Indeed, she is the voice of reason in all situations; discussing the war, poverty, crime and the places she visits in a down to earth way which is really refreshing. You have to remember that this book was published in the 1950's and the style is very much a period of it's time, but she really manages to convey the exciting, but definitely not glamorous, job she did during wartime. I very much enjoyed this book and I liked the narrator; who is cheerful, kind and always entertaining. In her diary at the time she bemoans her financial position, writing, "I buy too many books...." I know the feeling, but I'm very glad I bought this one. Excellent and highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Memoir Of Forensic Pathology, 24 July 2013
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries in the Blitz (Paperback)
Molly Lefebure's memoir of her wartime work as secretary to the renowned forensic pathologist Professor Keith Simpson and how he snapped her up, recognising her talents, gives a detailed exposition of how they worked on horrendous murders in a clearly understandable combination. As Molly says after 7-8000 autopsies, "you can eat anywhere once you've eaten a ham sandwich in a morgue". Keeping meticulous records, her training as a journalist was imperative. Keith Simpson was a perfectionist. This book, (originally published in 1954), is still relevant to today's murder enquiries. Without DNA evidence, Simpson was a master at presenting his findings to the coroner and in court.

Molly Lefebure presents a fascinating insight into the days and social circumstances of war time. It is presented in a chapter/case formula. There is no sensationalism, just a portrayal of people ending as victims or perpetrators of crime. Capital punishment was still looming large. The case of Harry Dobkin who murdered his estranged wife and buried her under a slab on the site of a bombed Chapel leading to Albert Pierrepoint's (Chief Executioner) action is an example. Molly describes the hangman as 'a decent bloke doing his job'.

This excellent book has to be read in the context of the times. Advances in forensic science, police procedure, health and safety have entered the frame. The basic methodology of Keith Simpson and his secretary, Molly, have forged the foundations for modern forensic pathology.

The subject of a TV two-parter brought this book to public attention. It stands alone from the programme. Molly died aged 93. As a junior doctor in 1974,I attended an inquest as a witness, full of nerves, Keith Simpson had a few words in my ear. A calming and charming influence. I'm sure Molly had the same reassuring effect on her boss. She also wrote childrens' books and treatises on Coleridge and Wordsworth. This book is extremely interesting without too much gore and full of genuine factual characters and details of events not without a touch of humour. A superb read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, fascinating read, highly recommended., 26 Mar 2013
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This book is not quite what I expected, but was all the better for that!

I came to Murder on the Home Front via a BBC Radio 4 adaptation a few years ago and had been searching for the book ever since. I ordered the Kindle edition in December 2012 and downloaded it the day it was released.

I was expecting the book to read more like the radio adaptation, how wrong I was.

The book is beautifully written, goes into great detail about a number of post mortems with which the author was involved and gives a wonderful insight into the lives of the people involved, on both sides of the law and of the time.

It has both gruesome and hilarious moments. Fascinating reading.

Murder on the Home Front has been made into a two part television series that is due to be shown in April 2013.

Molly Lefebure died aged 93, just before publication of this edition. What a wonderful legacy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A suitable career for a lady?, 6 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries in the Blitz (Paperback)
I'm not sure why this book has lingered in obscurity for most of it's life...seen as a counterpoint to Keith Simpson's "Forty Years of Murder" it has to have some interest on that score alone.

I thought it was an interesting account of a young lady of her times, breaking with convention and taking up a most unusual occupation at the time...it was never going to be top of the best-sellers list, but very interesting and revealing, (as social comment if nothing else), all the same
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murders most foul, 13 Nov 2013
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I have read Professor Simpson's book 'Forty years of Murder' so I read this one with interest to see it from a different perspective. I did not find this one as interesting. The book doesn't flow easily, being a series of pen pictures of 'orrible deeds attended by the professor and his new assistant. Still an interesting read, never the less.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read, 5 Nov 2013
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The story of a doctor's Secretary whose job entails sitting next to the post mortem table,while her boss dictates his notes whilst working on the corpse.WHile the reader is spared some of the gory details, the authors detailed description of both location and victim give the imagination plenty to work with.A fascinating story of an unsung wartime character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, 9 Oct 2013
By 
S. Philpott (East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries in the Blitz (Paperback)
My favourite murder book ever is by Prof Keith Simpson, so it was with great excitement I opened this book by his secretary. It is well written and conjurs up the grey period during war time. She vividly describes the many characters and sad/depressing circumstances in which she is introduced to many of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good informative read., 28 Sep 2013
By 
Mrs. Julie Holt "Julie Haigh" (West Yorkshire UK) - See all my reviews
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I've had a bit of a stint recently reading a few books about autopsies after watching such programmes as 'Dr G Medical Examiner'. This book is written by a lady who used to be Secretary to the acclaimed medical examiner Dr Keith Simpson during world war 2 and she details many post mortems and crime cases of the day. This has apparently been made into a TV series by the makers of Downton Abbey and likened to 'Call The Midwife' but dealing with end of life rather than the beginnings of life. I've found this really interesting, some of the writing is a bit dated and some of the writer's opinions about some of the female murder victims is a bit unkind by today's standards. An excellent account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars War Memories, 25 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries in the Blitz (Paperback)
Strangely, I did not find this book very interesting in spite of the glowing report in the Daily Mail about the author.a little while ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars old fashioned forensics, 28 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries in the Blitz (Paperback)
I had seen this book advertised and I decided to buy it.it wasn't the kind of book I usually read.however it was easy to read.and I enjoyed it
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