To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest Paperback – May 3, 2005
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“An engrossing and compelling look at a shocking crime in another era. Olsen’s deft touch takes us back to the early 1900s so cleverly that reading Starvation Heights is akin to stepping into a time machine.” —Ann Rule
“An account of real-life villainry that outdoes anything a novelist might concoct.” —Les Standiford, author of Meet You in Hell
Top Customer Reviews
In Olalla, Washington, in 1911, Claire and Dora Williamson, two wealthy British sisters on holiday in the United States, were bamboozled by a Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard, who sold them on the idea of fasting as a cure for their minor ailments. The two sisters enthusiastically adopted the doctor's solution, and therein the groundwork was laid for the tragic events that were to unfold. Although Claire was more gung-ho than Dora on the idea of fasting as a way to better health, where one sister led, the other was sure to follow, as they were so close.
The sisters underwent the doctor's restrictive dietary regimen, becoming wraiths of their former selves in the process, and the treatments that they received at the hands of the doctor were brutal. Trapped and isolated in the doctor's sanitarium, which was located in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, the sisters were at the mercy of the doctor. Although a secret cry for help was sent to a faithful family retainer, for one of the sisters help would arrive too late.
The author describes the efforts that were made to bring this so-called doctor to justice. It was interesting to discover that the doctor had no medical training but was licensed by the state of Washington to practice as an osteopath. Moreover, so skeletal would her patients become that the local yokels would refer to the doctor's sanitarium as "Starvation Heights". It is little wonder that a number of the patients died, usually the wealthy ones.Read more ›
The journalistic detail in this book is second to none. The reader is completely transported back in time--and into the heart of a dark story. It is hard to believe this story is true, but it makes reading it all the more exciting and fascinating.
While some purists shy away from "true crime", I enjoy it--but I am extremely selective in what I read. The writing must be as good as the story. "Starvation Heights" does not dissapoint in this area. This is investigative reporting and writing at it's best. Fans of true crime will be thrilled to read such a well written account, and those who don't typically read true crime will find this story reads like a novel.
I cannot recommend this book enough, and I guarantee that for whatever reason you decide to read it, you will NOT be disappointed.
The story opens with a (presumably) fictional scout camp telling stories around a fire. In other words, you can start clocking up the clichés from page one: "I aint lyin'...The doctor locked her patients up and starved `em. To skin `n bone, I heard...I heard a kid from up the valley found a couple of human skulls where he was diggin' for baked beans." It's a hackneyed narrative frame that does a disservice to the weighty subject matter. Olsen is presenting his book not as a thorough autopsy of a notorious case of malpractice, the exploits of a notorious female charlatan, and the fate of her tragic female victims, but a salacious yarn for boys; light on facts and heavy on embellishment. And that's pretty much what you get.
My pet hate is historical non-fiction that reads like a novel. Olsen seems to think his task as a historian is to give us an insight into what the characters are thinking, feeling, or doing at any given time - things he couldn't possibly know:
"Linda motioned for more tea as she cleared her throat"
"The doctor uttered one phrase sharply, a bit louder than the other words and with a slight knowing shake of the head.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just what I wanted! The book was in great shape and replaced a copy I loaned out and didn't get back. Very interesting and true!Published 3 hours ago by Marleen Jockers
This book was a little slow, but by all means it held my interest. I would request it to read.Published 17 days ago by Christie Elizabeth
The story makes the book. The telling of the story is a little melodramatic and sometimes hard to follow in the switch of timelines, but well worth reading.Published 27 days ago by S. Tierney
Waaaay too long. Like a two hour movie that should have ended at 45 minutes.Published 1 month ago by Yogi
An unsettling story to say the least. I myself disliking almost all the characters for their naivete, their apathy, their self-interest, or their timidity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
Fascinating look at fad medicine in the '20's. This book is very detailed and takes the reader back to that time period.Published 2 months ago by maryl