Again, The Dream Doctor (1914) is made up of a series of unconnected cases, and is really a string of short stories put together as a novel...but at least this time has a framing story of Kennedy's Watson, the reporter Jameson, tailing him for a solid month just to see how many cases he deals with. It's also got a slightly interesting structure, in that the cases don't neatly begin and end with chapter openings and closings, but will end and start midchapter. OK, that's not all that revolutionary, but I did say it was slightly interesting.
The Dream Doctor opens with the mystery of a wealthy stockbroker, who falls dead on the street after leaving behind a cryptic letter that some say is a suicide note. His wife claims to have had a premonition in a dream of his death. It's through the examination of several typewriters, and examination of the wife's dreams (done in Freudian style, as if Freud's ideas were a one-size-fits-all proposition and psychology was an exact science) that Kennedy spots the culprit. Then an actress is found dead in a beauty parlor; the cause is not evident, but there are weird glowing spots inside her mouth. It appears she was killed by a phosphorus-tainted enveloped that she licked; but who did it and why? It takes use of a "rayograph" (to detect forgeries) and a "string galvanometer" (a primitive device for recording electrocardiograms) to reveal the killer.
|A string galvanometer. I'm glad my cardiologist doesn't use one.|
Next up is a rash of jewel thefts being pulled by a slick gang of shoplifters. He uses a telegraphone again (he used one before), basically an old-school method of wiretapping, and a galvanometer to test suspects' skin conductivity to catch the thieves...one of whom is a real kleptomaniac more deserving of pity than censure. Then we have his investigation into the murder of a scientist who was on the verge of perfecting synthetic rubber. This ends up being the most bizarre motive and crime I've seen in a while; the murderer is afflicted with sleeping sickness after a bite from tsetse fly, and has dosed on poisonous medications so much he needs to replace his blood with someone else's! It's straight out of a horror film with Lionel Atwill and George Zucco, and makes little sense.
Then a bomb is sent to the district attorney's office; it doesn't go off, but is a scare. The DA's office is involved in a war against a local vice lord, and the safe assumption is that they sent it. Kennedy sets out to uncover the criminal's identity, a chase leading from a seedy cabaret to an underground bomb factory, and he uses a now-common device, a thermopile, and a hydraulic ram to solve the mystery. After that, Kennedy is contacted by the Navy when secret documents are stolen. (And announced in the paper, one of the most unbelievable things in this book.) It turns out the papers were dealing with new work in "telautomatics" or what we today would call "remote-controlled drone ships". Kennedy uses an audion, an old-style wireless wave detector, to nab the culprit.
|This mild-mannered object is an audion.|
|A Crookes tube. That would make for a cool lamp.|
The Dream Doctor is easily available from multiple sources as a free or low-cost ebook. Used copies are out there, but can cost the earth.