Monday, March 10, 2008

Book Review: The Crime Doctor by EW Hornung

Is an ape-like murderous thug blackmailing your girlfriend for her jewelry? Missing a few top-secret military blueprints? Plagued by a few pesky arsons and murders at your sprawling country manor house? Is an archfiend planning your death? Need to have a criminally insane member of the upper crust quietly spirited away to a private asylum before the bloodlust strikes again? If so, call the Crime Doctor.

In the mid 1800’s England was an empire. Under British colonial rule, Queen Victoria’s armies occupied twenty-five percent of the nations of this planet, implementing parliamentary law and English culture across the globe. No other fictional character bolstered the perception of Anglo-supremacy and Christian virtue than Sherlock Holmes, the UK’s foremost consulting detective. But in the early 1900s, the English empire started to crumble. Their involvement in the Boer wars, a difficult and bloody campaign that saw the conception of concentration camps for women and children, had the British citizenry equally divided between support and protest. Out of this moral ambiguity and social turmoil comes EW Hornung’s Crime Doctor, a man who himself crippled in that horrific campaign. He is not portrayed as a superman who needs the intellectual challenge of pursuing criminals to sway his boredom, but as an all too human solider, who after being cured of his injury that caused a personality imbalance, has a deep seeded desire to help his fellow man by the eradication of crime, by using any means at his disposal.

THE CRIME DOCTOR was critically acclaimed when first published but unfortunately Dr. Dollar’s thrilling adventures came to a halt shortly after because of the death of the author. Such the pity because the Crime Doctor is an intriguing character, one whom could stand shoulder to shoulder with Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, Philo Vance as well as Hornung’s most popular creation, Raffles, the Gentleman Cracksmith.

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