Dr John Dollar: The First Criminal Psychologist in Fiction

Posted: June 2, 2017 by vequinox in Literature

Interesting Literature

In this week’s Dispatches from the Secret Library column, Dr Oliver Tearle considers E. W. Hornung’s forgotten ‘crime doctor’, John Dollar.

Dr John Dollar is a fictional detective with a difference. He is, as one of the characters in The Crime Doctor puts it, ‘a medical expert in criminology’. He is the forerunner to the fictional criminal psychologists we see in modern police procedural television dramas, probably most famously Cracker, the ITV drama created by Jimmy McGovern and starring Robbie Coltrane as Dr Edward ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald, a criminal psychologist who helps the Manchester police to investigate crimes.

In the first story in The Crime Doctor, which is largely an introduction to Dr John Dollar’s history and his methods, he tells the Home Secretary, Topham Vinson:

‘It is impossible,’ replied the enthusiast, duly drawn, ‘to define the scope of an embryonic science. When the crime doctor has come to…

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