Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Forty Years of Murder

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 08 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6737
  1. Harry Haynes, MD student, neuropathology, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK
  1. harryrhaynes{at}

The memoir of Cedric Keith Simpson (1907-85) established him as the most famous English forensic pathologist of his day. After the suicide of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the dashing, unchallenged figurehead of English forensics, in 1947, Simpson and his colleagues became the new celebrity pathologists. This book, Forty Years of Murder, charts Simpson’s most high profile cases in sometimes gruesome detail. Often photographed attending some grisly scene with his loyal secretary, Simpson inhabited an era of forensics before genomics. He outlines his intellectual exchanges in the courts at a time when queen’s counsels were king’s counsels with magnificent sounding names such as Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, …

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