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Forty Years of Murder: An Autobiography


Forty Years of Murder: An Autobiography

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    Available in PDF Format | Forty Years of Murder: An Autobiography.pdf | English
    Keith Simpson(Author)

Christie, Hanratty, The Krays … murderers haunt the mind. We read about them in the press with horrified curiosity and, if we’re lucky, this is as close as we get. But Home Office Pathologise Keith Simpson spent forty years in the very midst of murder. This is his autobiography.

The late Professor Keith Simpson became the first Professor of Forensic Medicine at London University and lectured on the subject to other doctors, lawyers, police officers and magistrates at home and all over the world. He pioneered forensic dentistry, and for the first time identified a suspected murderer by teeth marks left on the victim’s body. He was responsible for the first successful ‘battered baby’ prosecution in England, and perhaps one of his greatest contributions has been to save the lives of countless babies by disseminating information on the syndrome and getting it recognized and controlled.

This is the bestselling autobiography of the man who was always at the scene of the crime. In describing his celebrated investigations he spares his readers none of the chilling details: the whip-marks, the maggots, the skeletal remains, which proved the innocence of so many men and women…and sent so many more to the gallows.

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Book details

  • PDF | 280 pages
  • Keith Simpson(Author)
  • W.H. Allen / Virgin Books; First Edition edition (31 Dec. 1978)
  • English
  • 9
  • Biography

Review Text

  • By sue on 18 August 2017

    got it when i should of thanks

  • By Steve S. on 21 March 2006

    This book is an amazing look over the work and experience of Keith Simpson. I can thoroughly recommend the book to anyone with even a passing interest in forensics! Whilst covering some gruesome topics, you will find a few light hearted entries here and there. I was lucky enough to attend some of his 'special' presentations at Guy's Hospital Medical School, where he took no little delight in shocking his audience with graphic photographs! Actually a real gentleman, he signed a copy of his book for me shortly after it was published.

  • By Julie Burgess on 11 February 2007

    I enjoyed this book. I am very interested in pathology and Keith Simpson is one of the best. I would be very proud to say I had solved as many mysteries as Simpson has in his work. Very good book for all sorts of reasons. If you have a weak stomach, then this book is probably not a good idea

  • By Marie on 30 April 2013

    Professor Keith Simpson was the first Professor of Forensic Medicine at Guy's hospital in London, and began his career as a forensic pathologist in the 1930s and 40s. He worked on countless high-profile murder cases for the Home Office and Scotland Yard, involving criminals who have now become infamous, such as the Kray twins and Lord Lucan.By far the most fascinating aspect of this book is the detail about the history of forensic medicine. Anybody who reads a lot of crime fiction or watches CSI would think Simpson was working in a completely different world. These days it is easy to think that a murderer can be convicted on the basis of a DNA match from a cheek swab that takes 5 seconds to do. But back in wartime Britain the technology to do that didn't exist and it was infinitely more difficult to prove someone guilty. Simpson pioneered techniques that we take for granted today, such as forensic odontology (identifying a criminal from bite marks left on the victim). He also had to demonstrate the quick intelligence to explain and justify his conclusions in court.His writing style can come across as a bit smug and self-congratulatory, and that did grate at times, but to be fair his achievements are truly astounding. I was amazed to read that on one occasion he was able to prove murder had taken place through identifying a single gall stone in a pile of rubble (with only the naked eye) after the rest of the body had been dissolved in acid.As well as learning about the roots of forensic pathology you get a real insight into how much society in general has changed over the years. A large number of the criminals mentioned in this book were eventually hanged, and it's also interesting to read about how many got off scot-free because of a lack of hard evidence in court. Without the concrete proof provided by DNA tests etc., a conviction could rest solely on the pathologist's clinical deductions and reasoning, and it was often possible for the defence to pick holes in his logic. I was also amused to see how much society's attitudes towards doctors have changed. Simpson discusses a case in which he proved the innocence of a doctor who had been accusing of killing his patient for monetary gain. He dismisses this as a possible motive:"She had left an estate of £157,000, out of which the doctor received an old Rolls Royce and a chest containing silver valued at £275...hardly a rich legacy!"I imagine concerns might certainly be raised these days if a GP inherited a car and a chest of silver from one of his patients! On the other hand, Simpson also talks about doctors who got into trouble after prescribing morphine and sedatives for palliation of their terminally ill patients. When you consider the fuss that has recently been kicked up in the press about palliative care and the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway, it seems that maybe not so much has changed after all.So of course, this is a book chock-full of gruesome stories and grisly details, and if you are of a squeamish disposition then I'd steer well clear. But anybody who is a fan of crime fiction - particularly with a forensic/pathological theme, such as the novels of Tess Gerritsen or Patricia Cornwell - would do well to track down a copy as it is a really interesting read.

  • By TC Review on 16 February 2015

    Why? Why put up with urgent phone calls at all hours of the day and night, the foul smells, exhumations, morgues, lust and violence? Simpson says it was for the excitement; no two days are ever the same in the life of a forensic pathologist.Certainly, no two cases were ever the same; any reader with a strong stomach and an interest in criminology will find Simpson's well-written and entertaining account of his professional life interesting. His powers of deduction in determining the who, what, when, where and how were indeed awesome.I found his account of Neville Heath's crimes and Dr. Bodkin Adams' acquittal (see my reviews of both cases) particularly interesting when seen from Simpson's perspective.But I think a most fascinating aspect, common to most of the cases, was the painfully stupid way most suspects gave themselves away. At the height of the nationwide manhunt for him, why did Neville Heath walk around with a left-luggage ticket for the murder weapon, in his pocket? "Did I murder this woman for something she was supposed to have, and had not?" Asked the murderer of Mrs. Freeman Lee. How did he know she "had not" - because he had murdered her!Despite the gruesome subject matter, Simpson's book is warmly written and at times darkly humourous. An example of this is the time he entrusted the care of his ageing mother to the matron he had given evidence against - at her trial for murdering an elderly care home patient! I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone seriously interested in this area of law.

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