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The Curious Habits of Dr Adams: A 1950s Murder Mystery by [Robins, Jane]
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The Curious Habits of Dr Adams: A 1950s Murder Mystery Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Jane Robins has written an endlessly enjoyable book, which reads like an Agatha Christie (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

She tells the story with great brio, and a real feeling for the vanished social milieu in which Adams operated (Lynn Barber Sunday Times)

The case against Adams as a serial killer is a classic of British crime, but Jane Robins takes nothing for granted. She re-examines the evidence, consults modern experts (some of whom worked on the enquiry into the activities of Dr Harold Shipman) and presents her own perturbing conclusions. On the basis of this book, would you have convicted the curiously behaved Dr Adams? (Saga)

Vividly characterised, wonderfully atmospheric and thoroughly riveting (Daily Mail)

This is a compelling, very well-written story. It will feed the British love of a good murder mystery. Robins gives her own verdict in the final chapter but her readers are the jury (Scotsman)

One to keep you alert on the beach (Observer)

A compelling account of a murder mystery (Oldie)

Vividly characterised, wonderfully atmospheric and thoroughly gripping (Evening Standard Book of the Year)

A gripping tale that bears an uncanny resemblance to the case of Harold Shipman (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

Perfect for fans of Kate Summerscale, this is the chilling true tale of Dr John Bodkin Adams, the family doctor suspected of murdering 160 of his patients in 1950s Eastbourne.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2022 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (23 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Poor stuff. The author appears piqued to have been beaten to the post by Pamela Cullen's book (a substantial work but not without its own faults), seems to have lost interest in the topic and has produced a spiritless piece which adds nothing to what has been published on Bodkin Adams, while insufficiently developing the material gathered from interviews with Mrs Hullett's daughter. As Bachgen says, nowhere near as sharp and informative as John Surtees' book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 1957, Dr John Adams, a general practitioner from Eastbourne, was tried for the murder of an elderly patient, ostensibly because he hoped to inherit her Rolls Royce. The investigation leading up to the trial was a press sensation, with rumours abounding that Adams had murdered as many as 300 patients. This book tells the story of the investigation and trial, and Jane Robins asks the reader to judge whether the eventual verdict was right or wrong - was Adams a mass-murderer in the mold of Harold Shipman or was he a maligned man?

After the trial the police files were sealed, but a decade ago they were re-opened following a successful Freedom of Information request. Robins has based much of the book on these files and on the record of the trial, and has also spoken to some of the children of the alleged victims. She tells us how the press reported the story, before and after the trial, and sets the book in its historical context by reminding the reader of what other events were happening around the same time as the deaths under investigation - the coronation of the Queen, the Suez crisis etc.

Adams himself was either a hard-working, caring GP who went out of his way to be available to his patients at all times of the day or night; or he was a scheming manipulative murderer who preyed on the elderly people, mainly women, who trusted him. He was either a kind man who popped in to see these often lonely people without being specifically asked; or he was an unscrupulous monster, forcing unnecessary medical treatments on people too weak and needy to refuse.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to this book after greatly enjoying "The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath", the previous book by Jane Robins. I am glad to report that "The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams" was just as good, if not better in certain respects.

Robins here takes you on a journey back to the Eastbourne of the mid-20th century and specifically, the well-off widows living in grand houses complete with maids and nurses and of course a local doctor by the name of Adams, only too keen to come round to check up on these widows and ensure that their legal and financial affairs are taken care of..... before bumping them off with mega doses of morphine! I simplify here of course and at first glance, this seems to be the case, but the real beauty here is that what you think is a simple open and shut case becomes much more multi-faceted and nuanced when the court case arrives at the Old Bailey in 1957.

For me, the real hero of this book is Geoffrey Lawrence, the defence barrister for Dr. Adams. His mastery, both of the facts and of the English language, had me in awe. Lawrence easily outfoxes the prosecution's Manningham-Buller (the Attorney-General no less) via some delightful questioning of the nurses who were around at the time of the doctor's drug administering. But the most wonderful chapter sees the "mousy" Lawrence pitched against Dr. Arthur Douthwaite, the handsome, elegant physician whose commanding and lofty manner was banked on by the prosecution to seal their case. However, by the time that Lawrence had finished with him in court, Douthwaite was a broken man - even the judge thought that Douthwaite's testimony was "shambolic".

"The Curious Habits" is a great read and I think it would appeal to anyone who has an interest either in medicine, criminal law or British social history.
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Format: Paperback
Listened to this as an audio book and it hooks you right in like the best murder mystery ( but sadly those involved were poor unfortunate real people -mostly women) the sense of time and place is such that you feel as if you really are in the 50's with the deference and social milieu. I could just not get over the way he got away with things based, as far as I could tell simply because of this deference towards his class/profession. A salutatory lesson, thank goodness we are slightly less so today. Having said that, look at Harold shipman. The similarities are chilling. Works on two levels, as murder mystery/s ( multiple !) and as social history. Highly recommended
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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