Standard reference on medical jurisprudence, originally published in 1865 by Dr. Alfred Swaine Taylor. Taylor, then the most prominent toxicologist in England, created the first edition, based on case law and medical examples from his experience and readings.

Taylor's was a standard text in police investigations, British courts and medical jurisprudence courses for over a century. It was extensively revised twelve times to keep up with changes in law and medicine. The editors in charge of revision read like a who's who of British medical jurisprudence. The most recent edition (the thirteenth), revised and edited by Dr. Keith Mant of Guy's Hospital in 1984, is now out of print. There is no evidence that a fourteenth edition is planned by the publishers, Churchill Livingstone.

I found the twelfth (Centenary) edition in a second-hand bookstore. It was published in 1965 and edited by Professor Keith Simpson. We bought it on the theory that it would be invaluable for writing murder mysteries (in case we ever decided to start).

The books have a certain morbid fascination, though some of the sections require a strong stomach and a hard heart to read. Each topic covers not just the law, but exemplary legal and medical cases. Our edition, which runs to two volumes, is representative of the scope of the series. It is interesting how outdated some of the topics are.

Volume I

    PART 1
  1. Legal Aspects of Medical Practice
  2. Medico-Legal Examination of the Living and the Dead
  3. The General Medical Council
  4. Medical Responsibility
  5. Death and Post-Mortem Changes
  6. Apparent Death: Premature Burial
  7. Identity of the Recently Dead. Reconstruction of Human Remains
  8. Wounds and Offences Against the Person
  9. Inferences to be Drawn from the Examination of a Dead Body. Medico-Legal Nature of Wounds
  10. The Examination of Blood Stains
  11. Firearm Wounds
  12. Death from Lightning and Electricity
  13. Deaths Connected with Cold and Heat. Burns. X-Ray and Chemical Injury
  14. Starvation and Neglect
  15. Asphyxia, Suffocation, Choking, Drowning, Strangulation and Survival
  16. Life Assurance. Accident Insurance. Relationship of Trauma to Disease

    PART 2
  17. Psychiatry and the Law
  18. Mental Disorder and Responsibility

Volume II

    PART 1: SEXUAL MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE, OBSTETRIC, CIVIL AND CRIMINAL
  1. Impotence and Sterility
  2. Virginity and Defloration
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Delivery
  5. Dissolution and Nullity of Marriage
  6. Legitimacy and Disputed Paternity
  7. Sexual Offences. Rape. Incest
  8. Masturbation, Indecent Exposure, Gross Indecency, Indecent Assaults, Unnatural Offences, Sodomy, Bestiality
  9. Abortion: Natural, Theraputic, Criminal
  10. Medico-legal Aspects of Live and Still-birth
  11. Neonatal and Infant Death
  12. Infanticide - Criminal Aspects

    PART 2: TOXICOLOGY
  13. The Law on Poisons. The Definition of a Poison of Noxious Thing
  14. The Action of Poisons
  15. Diagnosis and Treatment of Poisoning. Analytical Procedures
  16. Classification of Poisons. Poisoning by Various Classes of Poisons. Corrosive Poisons
  17. Poisoning by the Metallic Elements and Their Salts and by the Elements Phosphorus and Sulphur
  18. Poisoning by Irrespirable or Toxic Gases
  19. Poisoning by Alcohols
  20. Poisoning by Glycols, Ethers, Aldehydes, Esters, Ketones
  21. Poisoning by Halogenated Hydrocarbons
  22. Poisoning by Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Petroleum Products
  23. Poisoning by Synthetic Organic Drugs
  24. Poisoning by Barbituates, Glutarimides and Ureides
  25. Poisons of Vegetable Origin. The Alkaloids
  26. Animal Poisons. Endocrines. Hormones

Both volumes are extensively indexed.


Note that owning these books means that I can never commit murder, especially not any form of poisoning known before 1966, since I would be suspected at once. I know too much.

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