E.W. Hornung was an English author best known for writing the A.J. Raffles series about an English gentleman thief in the late 19th century.
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Mr. Hornung's new hero is not a committer but a preventer of crime, one whose mission to quote his own words, is to busy himself "in saving people from themselves while they're still worth saving, in that prevention which is not only better than cure, but the vital principle of modern therapeutics in every other direction. In keeping good material out of the prison at all cost." Even, when such action implies becoming more or less an accessory after the fact. This idea of "The Crime Doctor" is an excellent one on which to base a series of stories, and Mr. Hornung uses it skillfully. Doctor Dollar has been led by a startling personal experience to interest himself, first in the possible results of surgical operations upon character, and then in the employment of other means to obviate a potential from becoming an actual criminal. His work in this new branch of the profession is aided by all sorts of sanatorium he runs for the benefit of his especial type of patients, to whom he is both physician and father confessor, many of them being quite unaware that they are being treated for "incipient criminality." Naturally a young man in this position is bound to have adventures, particularly when one of his friends and supporters is so important a personage as the Home Secretary of England, his first encounter with whom provides the book's opening episode. Doctor Dollar frequently finds it necessary to play the part of detective in addition to his other two roles, and does it very successfully. Sometimes, in fact, he is rather more detective than physician, as in the affair of "The Golden Key," and had he not been both the matter of "The Schoolmaster Abroad," would have ended disastrously and he himself failed to pay his debt. He is all these and lover to boot in certain of those cases in which the Lady Vera Molye, the book's frank and spirited heroine, is the central figure. And once or twice he actually does become an accessory after the fact, though surely no one could help sympathizing with his decision in the matter of "One Possessed" and his treatment of "The Second Murderer" ---- whose nerves he wrecks in a way the description of which is one of the most interesting things in the book. He is a agreeable and appealing hero, this "Crime Doctor" with the slight squint and the patch of silver hair above one ear, quick-witted, enthusiastic, a man for whom loaded pistols have no terrors--- does he not walk right up to one in the very beginning and collects a number of them before the end?--- and we suspect that his creator is fond of him and does not intend to let his adventures close with this single volume. Else why is the arch villain of them all, the educated and intelligent criminal contemptuous of "battle, murder and sudden death," more to be feared than a dozen of the merely ignorant and vicious, still at liberty upon the very last page? It has been said that throughout his subsequent life Sheridan was afraid of the author of "The School for Scandal"; and it is probable that Mr. Hornung is in somewhat the same position. With each new book of his comes the chorus, "It's good, but it isn't `Raffles'!" Whether this new hero will prove as popular as that debonair thief only time will tell, but in either case he can congratulate himself upon the fact that Doctor Dollar may very likely bring certain aspects of crime to the attention of people who but for him might never have thought of them. So "The Crime Doctor" has a value outside the fulfillment of its ostensible purpose of providing lively entertainment well suited either to the Summer hammock or the Winter easy chair. -- The New York Times
An excellent addition to any classical detective library...The eight stories contained inThe Crime Doctor are examples of Edwardian crime fiction at its best. Intellect prevails over chaos, and scientific progress can solve all social ills.... This is an attractive volume from a new small press, and a welcome reprint of this lesser-known classic... -- Steven Steinbock, The Strand Magazine
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