Take two naive wealthy British sisters, a fanatical self-proclaimed doctor, set the story in the back woods of Washington state in 1911, and you have the ingredients of a pretty good historical novel. Turn all of these into a true account of greed and gullibility and you have a fascinating tale that is unbelievably horrid.
I just don't get it. I can't stick to a diet for over 48 hours, and that is also the limit to my fasting. And that long only if I am doing a juice fast. How did these folks survive with months of WILLING fasting? Oh, well, I guess that is the point here...they usually didn't. Try to imagine a full-sized adult weighing 50 pounds! A good read.
From the back cover - In this true story - a haunting saga of medical murder set in an era of steamships and gaslight - Gregg Olsen reveals one of the most unusual and disturbing criminal cases in American history. A story that mirrors events of today, STARVATION HEIGHTS is a spellbinding tale of suspense, family loyalty, and the desperate struggle to prevent a vicious murderer from killing again.
I am a fan of Greg Olsen's writing. He tells sensational stories, without sensationalizing them. This is another one of those. The true story about people voluntarily starving themselves, many to death, under the watch of a "Dr. She gets rich off of their money and belongings that she blatantly takes.
Starvation Heights is a well documented and engaging historical narrative of Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard's exploits as an osteopathic woman physician in the early 20th century.
She started her practice of purging the body of illness through starvation which resulted in the death of many of her patients. Her dominant personality and charismatic charms allowed her to win many converts to her controversial treatments. For her efforts she rewarded herself by having her patients make her the beneficiary of their estates.
The author, Gregg Olson, was inspired to write this story after moving to the site of her Sanitorium in Puget Sound. Using court documents, letters, and archival documents from sources in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Washington, Mr. Olson weaved a narrative which read like a contemporary expose on graft, duplicity, and murder. Situated in the formative days of Washington state, the reader is exposed to the politics, people, and country of the that time.
An exciting read in which a true tale can be as suspenseful as a fictional murder mystery.
I'm a longtime fan of Gregg Olsen's true crime writing, and this is no doubt my favorite of his books. I know the area as we visit the Seattle area often. I started reading, knowing it was true crime, my favorite genre, but was disillusioned for a very brief moment when I discovered how long ago the events occurred. I am incredibly happy, though, that I continued to read. A fascinating tale of two sisters who believed in all things natural, health-wise. But when their paths crossed with a fanatic, greedy and evil practitioner, their lives were very short-lived. If you love true crime, you will love this book. Wish I could give it more than 5 stars.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
In1911, Claire and Dora Williamson traveled to Dr. Linda Hazzard's Institute of Natural Therapeutics near Seattle, Washington. There, instead of receiving medical attention, the wealthy sisters were tortured, starved, and robbed of their inheritance. Dora escaped, but Claire was not as fortunate. In detail, the author recreates the shocking 1912 trial of Dr. Hazzard for the murder of Claire. Photo insert.
In 1911, two wheathy, British heiresses came to a sanatorium near Seattle to undergo the revolutinary fasting treatment of Linda Burfield Hazzard. It was supposed to be a holiday for the two sisters. But within a month of arriving at what the locals called Starvation Heights, the women were emaciated shadows of their former selves, groaning in pain, waiting for death. Dora and Claire Williamson had fallen into the hands of Dr Hazzard, a woman of extraordinary evil and greed who would stop at nothing short of murder to achieve her ambitions.