Description: This is the second edition of a British textbook of forensic pathology that has become widely accepted in the medical community. The previous edition was published in 1991.
Purpose: The purpose is to lead the pathologist through the procedures needed in the postmortem examination of a person who has died under obscure or suspicious circumstances. This is accompanied is by attention to the details of autopsy findings in all types of traumatic deaths and in sudden natural deaths. The book is comprehensive but concise and meets the author's objectives.
Audience: The book, written by an internationally recognized authority, is primarily for forensic pathologists or others who may have to work in that role. It is an excellent reference for settling arguments between colleagues over the meaning or significance of a particular autopsy finding. American pathologists might wish for more discussion of handgun wounds.
Features: The photographs are sufficient and appropriate to the text. There are also many excellent line drawings to illustrate important forensic concepts. The overall appearance of the book is good, but the layout of the first edition was superior, with nonglossy paper, wider margins, less crowded printing, and larger pages.
Assessment: This is the best forensic pathology textbook available, strewn with "pearls" gleaned from Dr. Knight's years of experience. The chapters on asphyxiation and fatal pressure on the neck are particularly good. My only criticism pertains to the chapter on child abuse, which implies that there is more controversy than now exists regarding the cause of fractures and other injuries in infants, and perpetuates the myth that "multiple SIDS" deaths are more likely the result of an undetectable metabolic disorder than of asphyxiation. If I had to choose only one forensic pathology text, it would be this one. Those who have the first edition need not invest in the second, unless they are compelled to have the latest edition at their fingertips.