15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Curious Habits of Dr Adams,
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This review is from: The Curious Habits of Dr Adams: A 1950s Murder Mystery (Kindle Edition)
I am not sure whether you should say that you 'enjoyed' a book about a real life murder trial, but I thought this was absolutely gripping from start to finish. It is the story of family doctor, John Bodkin Adams, who was accused in 1957 of murdering a patient in the hopes of inheriting her Rolls-Royce. If the charge seems bizarre, then so was much about Dr Adams - who had "curious habits" indeed, and who was the focus of much gossip and innuendo long before the case he was accused of went to trial.
Jane Robins does a masterful job of recreating this era and making you feel you are actually in Court during the trial. However, she begins with a brief biography of Dr Adams, who eventually became a GP in genteel Eastbourne. There are then several case histories of the doctor and how he treated elderly patients, who seemed to die with some regularity and under odd circumstances. Staff were suspicious of the GP - of how regularly he ended up in their wills, of how he took 'keepsakes' and the amount of drugs he gave them. These cases go all the way back to 1935 and the author has really done an excellent job in recreating events about these patients and their treatment, discussing several cases in great detail. However, the widowed lady who died, and who eventually caused the police to become interested in the doctor, was Bobbie Hullett and that was the murder he was initially accused of.
This was an interesting time for GP's, as most had resisted joining the recently founded NHS and were, at the time of Dr Adams arrest, considering going on strike. When Dr Adams was arrested, by the wonderfully named Superintendent Herbert Hannan, the case was seen as both personal and political. If a GP was blamed for the death of his elderly patients, more could be accused. Were the claims sensationalist, or were they more than rumour, blame and gossip? Some, like journalist Percy Hoskins, of the Daily Express, felt the press were taking events and making them sound worse than they were. Very like the case of Harold Shipman, opinions in the town where Dr Adams worked were highly divided. Some of his patients felt he was the best doctor they had ever known - caring, compassionate and hard working. Others felt he was money grabbing, rude and, in some cases, downright dangerous.
The trial took place at the Old Bailey in 1957 and it is recreated in fantastic detail. You will have to read the book yourself, follow the evidence and then decide whether or not you feel that Dr Adams was guilty or innocent. This book will certainly give you enough evidence to make your own opinions about the case and this would certainly be an excellent choice for reading groups - I am sure opinions will be as divided as they were at the time and it would lead to interesting discussions.
I have one complaint about this kindle book - the illustrations were included, but they are so small as to lose all of their detail and the writing is virtually unreadable. A publisher would not bring out a hardback copy of this book with the illustrations virtually lost - so, why do so in a kindle version? Kindle books are popular and often outselling paper copies and it is time the publishers treated kindle readers with the respect they deserve and produce the book properly - not as a poor second, with quality lost and the experience marred by shoddy work. Other publishers manage to produce illustrations properly, so it obviously can be done - and should be, or the price dropped accordingly. That aside, this is a truly riveting read and if you enjoy historical true crime books, this is one of the best I have read.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jun 2013 14:42:30 BDT
mo c says:
Great review, thanks !
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 12:47:32 BDT
S Riaz says:
Posted on 20 Jun 2013 07:51:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2013 17:02:36 BDT
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jul 2013 11:25:47 BDT
Crookedmouth, if she enjoys period crime novels she might like Catriona McPherson "Dandy Giliver " series.Set in Scotland in the 20s historical research well done and posh Dandy a delightful sleuth.
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