The Diamond & Doran Mysteries are full of doctors of all kinds. They play an integral part in each mystery, whether it’s as coroner and alienist, as in the case of Niels Jensen, who not only helps Diamond & Doran solve their cases in Madman and Poison, but is also a great help to Diamond in dealing with some very personal baggage left over from his previous life as a soldier in Queen Victoria’s army. Niels also has a very important relationship with Doran.
While working on the case in Poison, Niels uses his connections to ask for help from the real life doctors, John Spray and Dr. Harriet Alexander, who treated patients at Dunning, or the Cook County Asylum, to give it its official title, and tried to enact reforms to improve the awful conditions against stiff opposition.
The reality of conditions there, created in part by the rife corruption of patronage appointees to its governing board, and the resultant underfunding created by that corrupt body, and overcrowding from the huge influx of new comers to the burgeoning city of Chicago, meant the inmates were left to eat bad food, in rat infested, overcrowded conditions. As medical director it was Dr. John Spray with the help of Dr. Alexander who began reforms. You can read about them and Niels Jensen in Poison.
Professor Sarah Hackett Stevenson was the Senior Professor of Obstetrics at Woman's Hospital Medical College of Chicago. She had a distinguished career in obstetrics that is worth reading about. In turn she recommends Salter also bring in another real life expert, Dr. William Wright Jaggard, a talented surgeon and professor of obstetrics at the medical department of Northwestern University, Chicago, with a stellar reputation for handling difficult cases. Jagged was highly regarded by his colleagues and contributed much to the American Text-Book of Obstetrics, the bible in its field at the time. Sadly Jaggard died from an attack of appendicitis in 1896 aged just 39 years old.
was a job that paid poorly and was scorned as a result. No one wanted to deal with the dead. But Niels has an enthusiastic assistant, Dr. Enoch Watkins, a hospital doctor at Cook County where the morgue is situated. Watkins loves the puzzle of finding out how the people on the mortuary slab died. It’s fortunate then, that when the job falls vacant in Vendetta, Dr. Watkins finds he is Cook County’s next coroner. In the next mystery, Tontine, out later this year, you can read about how Doc Watkins’ enthusiasm for new ideas is used in the investigation.
Whether it’s treating sick minds, tending to the needs of pregnant women, or getting justice for the dead, the doctors of the Diamond & Doran Mysteries are a busy bunch.
Until next Friday, happy reading!
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