The Father of Forensics by Colin Evans

The Father of Forensics

Before there was CSI, there was one man who saw beyond the crime-and into the future of forensic science. His name was Bernard Spilsbury-and, through his use of cutting-edge science, he single-handedly brought criminal investigations into the modern age. Starting out as a young, charismatic physician in early twentieth-century Britain, Spilsbury hit the English justice system-and the front pages-like a cannonball, garnering a reputation as a rea...

Details The Father of Forensics

TitleThe Father of Forensics
Release DateAug 1st, 2006
PublisherBerkley Trade
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, History, Biography, Science, Mystery

Reviews The Father of Forensics

  • Converse
    Bernard Spillsbury (1877-1947) was a British pathologist who in addition became a crime scene investigator and expert witness. During his lifetime he enjoyed a great deal of publicity in the press. Although his primary associations were with teaching hospitals in London, first St. Mary's and then St. Bartholomew's, he investigated crime scenes and did autopsies for the government department in charge of the English police forces, the Home office ...
  • Jason
    A fascinating book about the Father of Forensics. Sir Bernard Spilsbury wasn't in it for fame (Even though he got it) and he wasn't in it for the money, in fact part of the reason he was used so much was because he charged so little, he did what he did because of his love of the job, the science and solving the old "whodunit" puzzle.He drastically changed the face of forensics and the use of medical experts in court. He studied the scene, the bod...
  • Phillipa
    Saw this book of my sister's at my gran's house. She'd borrowed it and had just finished reading it, so I quickly swiped it so I could read it before she gave it back ;)It was certainly an interesting read. Not especially gripping in a murder-mystery kinda way. And I didn't come away feeling like this guy was *that* amazing. I guess he was pretty amazing at the time, and in England. But it felt like saying he was The Father of Forensics was a bit...
  • Andrew
    This is a fascinating book if a bit hard going at times - the reason I say that it is hard going as it does go in to great details of the cases and prosecutions that Bernard Spilsbury was involved with. Now the book is about forensics and its movement from almost pseudo science to the powerful legal tool kit kit is today, however even though the author makes the point that there is little known or published about Bernard Spilsbury this book acts ...
  • Paul
    Until I picked up this book I had never heard of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, but in his day he was a household name.Nowadays the forensic pathologist is commonplace in court and people are well aware of the general types of things that they can do with fingerprints, DNA analysis, projectiles and crime scene investigation. But at the turn of the 19th century the English were well behind their continental cousins with regards to ascertaining the facts b...
  • Amanda
    I enjoyed reading this book though I must admit to skimming the excruciatingly detailed parts about the background of the legal aspects of the cases. I get it, Sir Spilsbury was *the* go to guy for expert testimony. No need to reiterate it over and over.This book would have been greatly improved by focusing more on what happened with the murders and how Spilsbury found compelling evidence one way or the other and less on details about the trials.
  • Taylor
    I'm one of those people who spends more time than anyone should admit watching Forensic Files. Not to mention plenty of fake or "based on real events" crime shows, like CSI and Criminal Minds. I never got heavy into Law & Order but I've watched some of that, too. Oh and how could I forget true crime miniseries like The Jinx and Making a Murderer, and the only podcast I've ever really listened to is the first season of Serial about Adnan Syed and ...
  • dejah_thoris
    Another excellent book about the history of forensic pathology from Colin Evans. Instead of a compilation of cases, like his other works I've been reading, this one focuses solely on one practitioner, Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Like many Victorian men, he threw himself into his work wholeheartedly and became a leader in the developing field of forensic pathology. Several cases are covered over the course of his career including Hawley Harvey Crippen,...
  • Calzean
    Interesting biography into the life and times of Spilsbury and his impact in convincing judges, jurors and the press on the value of forensic evidence, especially when given by an expert with great honesty, an ability to relay complex medical issues to laymen and who had impeccable honesty. His later years where quite sad.
  • Deanne
    I'd heard of Sir Spilsbury before as I'd read true crime books mainly dealing with British murders ie Dr Crippen.This book focuses on some of his most famous cases, and his professional career.Fascinating book about a fascinating man.
  • Katherine Addison
    Biography of Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Does what it says on the tin.Since Spilsbury was a man consumed by his work, it's not surprising that the most interesting aspect of the book is Evans' discussion of the cases Spilsbury testified in, from George Joseph Smith (the Brides in the Bath man) and Hawley Harvey Crippen to the Wartime Ripper, Gordon Cummins. Evans writes very clearly, both about the murders and about the forensics of catching the kille...
  • Karen
    I found this book to be really interesting. As someone who worked a bit in pathology, I'm always interested in learning about forensics. Spilsbury set the pace for everyone who came after him. He dealt with some of the most important cases at the turn of the 20th century. Many of these cases I was familar with already, but this book provided more info on how these murderers were caught and prosecuted. Prosecution could always count on Spilsbury t...
  • Miranda Grant
    Though I disagree with the title claiming Sir Bernard Spilsbury was the father of forensics (I'm a Vidocq fan all the way), it was still a very interesting and enjoyable read. It gives a good insight into the early 20th century in England amongst all of the crime cases. Furthermore, it also gives references at the end of each chapter, which I greatly applaud.I particularly like the way Colin Evans goes into detail about the forensics and all of t...
  • Janette
    An absolutely fascinating read
  • Charlotte
    A fascinating collection of cases from the early 20th century, detailing how Sir Spilsbury helped define the role of pathology in modern murder investigations. The writing style was good, though I got the sense that the author may be American by some of the turns of phrased used throughout the book. If he is in fact British, then this must be a deliberate way to appeal to American readers, particularly with the title Modern Csi. I did find the au...
  • R_
    Reading this book makes one wonder just how many sinister people have indeed gotten away with murder. If there is not someone around like Spilsbury who can put the pieces (no pun intended) together, murder may go unsolved & unpunished. The writers for CSI (NY, LA, Miami, Antarctica...etc etc etc) need only study this book for many potential scripts. One aside: I read the "Kindle Edition" and there were no photos (not even cover art). This seems t...
  • Andrea Hickman Walker
    Sir Bernard Spilsbury investigated a lot of cases and this is the story of his life and how he made immense advances in the field. It's also an account of his personality, by all accounts a formidable one. It details the mistakes he occasionally made and the consequences of that (at least, I think that's in this book. I have a few and that's in one of them, but I can't actually tell which one off the top of my head).It's an interesting account of...
  • Caleb
    Very interesting book about the early stages of crime screen investigation in England. Mr Spilsbury reminded me a little more of Perry Mason I guess. He investigated the crime sceen when possible and also performed autopsies. His methodical and exact approach to his work, combined with his exact and self assured courtroom presentation, propelled medical evidence in criminal cases into the modern age. On a sad note his entire focus on his work lif...
  • Nellie
    Well written and an enjoyable read, this book covers cases that Bernard Spilsbury worked over the course of his life, helping to highlight his career and his knowledge of forensic science. There were many people involved in the creation of forensic science as we know it today, but Sir Spilsbury certainly did a great deal toward bringing it to light that science was an extremely helpful tool in investigation of crime. I very much enjoyed this book...
  • David Nadolny
    I picked this up for research on the 1905-1914 criminolgy section I am writing for a RPG game book. My intent was research, but boy was I surprised. In addition to have a great information on what state of the art forensics was available in the time frame I needed, it was also exceedingly well written, both from a technical standpoint, but also in such a manner that made it readable as stories. As many people know, reading a text book is far hard...
  • Bill Sleeman
    The Father of Forensics: The Groundbreaking Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and the Beginnings of Modern CSI is a very interesting and well researched book. Author Colin Evans has done a great job of combining the front-page crimes with the mundane ones to weave together a compelling history of how one individual, Bernard Spilsbury (, helped create a scientific movement.
  • Cameron Casey
    Turn of the century Sherlock Holmes. Very interesting view on the legal system, thru the eyes of a forensic scientist, at the turn of the century. Spilsbury was a fascinating man and while this book goes into great detail about the high-profile cases he worked on, it leaves out the man himself. What was he like when he wasn't on the stand or in front of others?
  • Kristy
    This book covers a handful of pivitol cases in which Spilsbury was involved during his career. It is a most fascinating look at forensics at the turn of the century in England; it's truly amazing how much Spilsbury and a few select others advanced science in their lifetimes. An easy read, this is a great choice for those interested in history or science...or even murder mysteries.
  • Midnight Blue
    Fascinating book detailing the career of Sir Bernard Spillsbury and the forensic detective work that made him Great Britain's go to medico legal expert witness for more than 30 years of the early twentieth Century. In depth look at some of the most gripping and horrific cases in the annals of crime, A must-read for fans of CSI.
  • Sarah
    This is just a fun, interesting read. I read it as a collection of interesting crime cases and how the experts unraveled the truth. I didn't find Spilsbury to be a Sherlock or anything on that level, and to call him the father of forensics seems like a stretch at best. However, as a collection of crime stories, very interesting and at times entertaining.
  • Marya
    This book is organized chronologically, each chapter around one or two cases that demonstrate the evolving work of this early forensic pathologist. I actually found myself more interested in the details of the cases than the detective himself. Totally gripping.
  • Kai
    Overall, this was a quick read with some interesting cases, but at times it edged towards the sensational/melodramatic, and I felt it focused too much on Spilsbury at the cost of largely ignoring the people around him.
  • Jolovessnow
    Interesting to see the birth of forensics. Spilsbury was brilliant & made some important advances to homicide investigation "tools" for British police. Seeing the types of crimes that he investigated and how they changed over his career was both informative & a bit sad for humanity.
  • laurel
    Although I was an anthropology major, I knew nothing about Spilsbury or the history of forensic science. This was a real learning experience for me, and I felt worth my time. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in turn of the 20th century crime or forensic history.
  • Sarah Duncan
    This story was awe-inspiring. It was absolutely amazing what one man accomplished, and how much he helped the justice system in the early 1900s in Great Britain. Bernard Spilsbury lived a truly amazing life!