Bodkin Adams

‘Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility.’

Darcy’s words to Bingley in Pride and Prejudice perfectly sum up the notorious Dr John Bodkin Adams. Not only was the Eastbourne doctor devious and deceitful; he was probably a psychopath.

I’ve just read Jane Robins’s The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams. It’s a fascinating profile of the creepy GP who was tried for the murder of one of his patients, Edith Morrell, in 1957.

Can you prove it was murder?

The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins

When charged he said, ‘Murder… murder… Can you prove it was murder? I didn’t think you could prove it was murder. She was dying in any event.’

Unfortunately, they couldn’t prove it was murder. And because the case failed Adams was never charged with any further cases – 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances. Of these, 132 left him legacies in their wills.

Jane Robins beautifully evokes the postwar era in which Adams thrived – he drove round Eastbourne in a Rolls-Royce – and explores how he operated. Eastbourne during this period was a wealthy town full of rich widowers.

Solicitous Adams inveigled his way into his patients’ lives

It was a time when such women would not queue at the GP’s but expect to be called upon. Adams inveigled his way into their lives under the guise of selfless devotion to their health and well-being.

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