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Lethal Witness: Sir Bernard Spilsbury, Honorary Pathologist [Paperback]

Andrew, Dr Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 1 2009 True Crime History
This book features the man who brought forensic pathology out of the laboratory. Sir Bernard Spilsbury was an early-twentieth-century British forensic pathologist who gained fame by testifying in classic murder cases, beginning in 1910 with the Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen trial. His expert court testimony - he identified Crippen's victim by detailed microscopic study of a scar - convinced the lay jury of Crippen's guilt. Considered the father of modern forensic pathology, Spilsbury became well known after he provided crucial prosecutorial evidence in the Brides in the Bath case (where a nurse nearly drowned in a laboratory experiment designed to prove his theories), the Blazing Car and Brighton Trunk murders, and the Hay-on-Wye arsenic poisoning trial. Knighted in 1923, Spilsbury performed 20,000 postmortem examinations and became the first and only 'Honorary Pathologist to the Home Office'. Controversial and dramatic, "Lethal Witness" charts Spilsbury's rise and fall as a media star, revealing how he put spin on the facts, embellished evidence, and played games with the truth. In some notorious cases, his 'positive evidence' led to the conviction and execution of men innocent of murder - gross miscarriages of justice that now demand official pardons. Andrew Rose examines Spilsbury's carefully nurtured image, dogmatic manner, and unbending belief in his own infallibility and exposes the fallacies of the man dubbed 'the most brilliant scientific detective of all time'. True crime fans, students of forensics, and law enforcement professionals will enjoy this biography of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the man who helped raise forensic science to an art.

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About the Author

Andrew Rose became a member of the English Bar in 1968, specializing in crime, and is a former immigration judge in the United Kingdom. He is the author of Scandal at the Savoy and Stinie: Murder on the Common, which was a finalist for the Gold Dagger Non-Fiction Award of the Crime Writers' Association.

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By microfiche TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I "met" Sir Bernard Spilsbury at the beginning (the procescution of Dr. H. H. Crippen for wife murder) and nearly at the end of his forensic career (his advice to Lieut-Commander Ewan Montagu as to how to send a dead body on a mission of deception and have it believed that he died of drowning. IOW "Operation Mincemeat"). So I was eager to read this e-book. It was not as engrossing as Colin Evans' "The Father of Forensics". Mr. Ross and Mr. Evans also disagree on which of Spilsbury's examinations was based on "good" and which on "bad" forensic science. Sir Bernard was treated by the courts as a man who could not be wrong. He had quite a following, especially among the judges, which influenced juries to convict on his evidence alone. This alone makes him a remarkable subject. Spilsbury not only made forensic pathology acceptable and respectable in criminal justice, he nearly brought it into disgrace by his dogmatism. So write both Ross and Evans, each from his own viewpoint. I think both are a must read for those interested in the history of CSI and forensic medicine
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for true crime fans Aug. 16 2013
By Pop culture man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This absorbing book compels you to keep turning its pages. It covers many of the classic British murder cases of the first half of the Twentieth century, as Spilsbury was the key medical witness sought by the prosecution throughout that period. The author has great skill in expressing technical legal and medical issues clearly and concisely. He gives satisfying levels of detail about the crimes and the trials and also about Spilsbury's personal life. He demonstrates convincingly how Spilsbury many times went unjustifiably beyond the evidence he had gathered to construct theories on how the crimes had been committed. His fame, reputation and very effective performance as a witness usually meant that his testimony at trial was the clincher in destroying the defence's case. In three or four cases, the author argues, Spilsbury's elaboration led to the execution of innocent men. Lethal Witness is an outstanding example of the true crime genre.
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