Monday, 18 August 2008

Bernard Spilsbury

Rather belatedly, after writing a novel about Dr Crippen, I have bought an old green Penguin paperback about the life and cases of the man who sealed Crippen’s fate. I don’t mean Inspector Dew of Scotland Yard, but rather Bernard Spilsbury, the forensic pathologist who first made his name as a result of giving evidence for the prosecution. Evidence which helped to hang Crippen.

Bernard Spilsbury: his life and cases was written by Douglas G. Browne and E.V. Tullett. It’s a chunky volume, first published in 1951, four years after Spilsbury committed suicide. Over the years, for all his formidable reputation, Spilsbury has come to be regarded as someone whose approach to giving evidence may not have been as admirable as used to be supposed. Whilst this book may not still the doubts, I am sure I will find it fascinating to learn more about this legendary figure in 20th century British homicide investigation.

Douglas G. Browne, incidentally, was not only a criminologist but also himself a writer of crime novels. I’ve only read one of them - Too Many Cousins – and that perhaps twenty years ago. I remember it as an enjoyable Golden Age mystery featuring a rather quirky detective called Harvey Tuke.

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