Sherlock Holmes – The First of a Long Line of Crime Scene Investigators
By Don Penven
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes began in 1887 with the publication of A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and 56 short stories penned by British author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Few fictional characters have survived the test of time, but Holmes continues to thrill, and yet befuddled many readers to this day. Motion pictures and TV documentaries keep the legend alive.
Holmes and Watson-a Dynamic Duo
The exploits of Holmes, and his roommate and biographer, Dr. John H, Watson, have fascinated countless generations of crime fans eager to learn more about this London-based “consulting detective,” whose uncanny abilities defy normal thought-processes of most Holmes devotees. Through skillful narration, using the words of Holmes, Watson and also third-person script, Conan Doyle mesmerized his followers with Holmes’ use of logical reasoning, the ability to devise virtually any form of disguise, all coupled with an in-depth knowledge of forensic science.
Author Conan Doyle stated that the inspiration for Homes was the persona of Dr. Joseph Bell, for whom he clerked at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He also admitted to using snippets from lecturer, Sir Henry Littlejohn.
Keeping Track of the Criminal Population
A system of criminal identification was implemented in Europe prior to Conan Doyle’s introduction of his master detective. Alphonse Bertillon. a French anthropologist, introduced his system of anthropometry, a method requiring precise measurements of the bone structures of incarcerated criminals. Bertillon’s formula of measurements was used to verify the re-arrest of the criminal element. It was not until 1903, as a result of the Will West/William West case, in which these two convicts had identical anthropometry measurements, they looked alike, but their fingerprints did not match. Soon after this, anthropometry was shelved to make way for the new science of fingerprint identification. As it turns out–Will and William West were identical twins.
The Introduction of Fingerprint Science
During this same fateful year when fingerprint identification was heralded as a new science, Conan Doyle published the Adventures of the Norwood Builder, in which a bloody fingerprint provides a solid clue to the nature of the crime in question.
Fingerprint identification reigns-supreme as a virtually infallible means of identification. But some forensic specialists would challenge this determination, countering that DNA profiling is a far more accurate means of identifying a perpetrator. No doubt this debate will rage on for some time to come.
The CSI Phenomenon
One of the most successful television dramas of the past decade is “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Along with its progeny, CSI Miami and CSI New York, this series has done more to influence how crimes are solved than all of the textbooks on the subject combined. Unlike so many “cop shows,” the CSI-series has created a new public awareness-to the point that many affected crime victims expect their particular brush with the criminal element to be solved within an hour (less the time for commercials), using futuristic methods and crime scene equipment. The CSI characters utilize the most innovative forensic examination equipment and work in pristine, shiny new laboratories equipped with every conceivable evidence discovery, evaluation and identification tool imaginable. But just taking into account the economic stress most crime labs are feeling, cost often outweighs practicality.
No doubt, most people would agree that Sherlock Holmes was the ultimate model for today’s CSIs, even if they never read a single one of Conan Doyle’s novels or short stories. The very name serves as a monument to the fictional character that frequently set forth from his lodgings at 221b Baker Street to pursue evil-doers wherever their crimes may have occurred.
Crime scene investigation has become a topic of interest for thousands of people. Some revel in the gory details from the crime scene, while others are seeking more information on how to become a CSI. The CSI TECH Blog contains dozens of articles covering just how CSIs investigate a crime scene and process the physical evidence found there. Satisfy your curiosity and visit this fact filled reference source: http://www.csitechblog.com/.