- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Lethal Witness: Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the Honorary Pathologist Hardcover – 1 Jul 2007
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From the Publisher
`Bernard Spilsbury was a greatly revered forensic witness who was generally
believed even when he was wrong. This book has a fascinating account of his
lethal effect on the great murder trials of the last century.'
Sir John Mortimer QC
About the Author
Andrew Rose is a civil judge whose clients included Charles Kray. He is the author of Stinie: Murder on the Common, which was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Non-Fiction Award, Crime Writers' Association, and Scandal at the Savoy. He is also an elected member of Our Society, one of the oldest medico-legal dining clubs in the country. Sir Bernard Spilsbury was among many of the Society's distinguished early members.
Top customer reviews
Sir Bernard Spilsbury was fallible. He made mistakes which sent at least one or two innocent men to the gallows. And at the other end of the spectrum, he made mistakes which allowed at least one or two guilty men to escape punishment. This book is written by a judge who basically puts Sir Bernard on trial and finds him guilty of arrogance, obstinacy and prejudice. Sir Bernard almost never admitted he was wrong. He traded on his reputation and for many years no one dared, in any substantial way, to contradict his "evidence". In court, he seldom backed down, even when confronted by powerful arguments that went against any of his opinions. He was moralist who disliked homosexuals and abortionists, amongst others, and who would deliver his "evidence" in a cleverly worded way that was not favourable to such people. To be succinct, the author does not like Sir Bernard and makes no bones about saying so.
I have two main problems with this book. One is that it is too biased against Sir Bernard. The man was a compulsively hard worker who took his work very seriously and who often got things completely right. That side of Sir Bernard hardly gets a mention. The second is that the book lacks authority when it deals with forensic pathology. The author is not a forensic pathologist and tends to skate over the medical side of things. The best person to dissect Sir Bernard's technical ability properly would be a top forensic specialist (such as the late Keith Simpson).
In conclusion this is a good solid contribution to the available literature on Sir Bernard Spilsbury and it ought to be read by anyone who wants to find out more about the man who was a legend in his life time and who put forensic medicine on the map (despite making some disastrous mistakes). However it is not the definitive work on Spilsbury and for that reason I can only award it four out of five stars.
The author tends to skip over the good work that Spilsbury did in the very early days of forensic science and concentrates on the cases where there is doubt cast on his evidence. This is all well and good in hindsight but a perspective needs to be put into the narrative placing the events in their proper time and place in history. Spilsbury WAS a pioneer and as such was found wanting in some areas that needed further exploration. I agree that his name was used as a high benchmark of forensics in his day but as we see through the course of the book, as others carried on his work and more was discovered about the nature of death more people became to see his faults.
What this book does show is how floored the judicial system was at the time with an awful lot of interference by government officials and a reliance on one mans word!
I am very impressed about this for book.
Look for similar items by category