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Thorndyke, Doctor. Doctor Thorndyke was created by R. Austin Freeman (Humphrey Challoner, Danby Croker, Phyllis Dudley, Romney Pringle, Dr. Wilkinson) and appeared in thirty-two stories and twenty-six novels and short story collections from 1907 to 1942, beginning with The Red Thumb Mark.
Doctor Thorndyke is a Scientific Detective. He is a forensic scientist and lawyer who lives and works in London and is brought in by his associates Inspector Badger and Inspector Blandy, both of Scotland Yard, to solve certain tricky cases. (The police are generally wary of Thorndyke, but he has a sterling record in solving cases). On occasion he is retained by an insurance company to provide expert medical opinion. Thorndyke relies on evidence rather than intuition and rarely if ever analyzes the people involved. Thorndyke uses his skills of observation to look at the things involved in a case, the physical clues and evidence that will convict a suspect or set them free. Thorndyke brings his research kit, the "inevitable green case," everywhere he goes; it is full of small instruments and chemicals that he uses in his examinations.
He is rather solemn and painstaking while on the job, keeping himself emotionally detached and secretive. Off the job he is kindly, philanthropic, dignified, and even witty, but on the job he is all business, even if his attitude towards his assistants and to the police is sometimes ironic and even vaguely contemptuous. Thorndyke is knowledgeable about a great many subjects beyond simple forensics; he has a mastery of matters from Egyptology to ophthalmology. He has exceptional (thought not superhuman) reasoning and imaginative abilities, and these are a great help to him in solving crimes. He also makes use of the most up-to-date medical equipment, everything from X-rays to microscopes. Thorndyke is assisted by his roommate Christopher Jervis, who acts as his chronicler and assistant, and Nathaniel Polton, his lab assistant, butler, amanuensis, pet inventor, and photographer.
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