Doctor Daniel’s Diagnosis #AtoZChallenge 2022 Murder Motives

Hello, and welcome to my 2022 A to Z Challenge! For a detailed explanation of my theme this year, see my theme reveal. But basically, I am exploring classic mystery novel murder motives, by making up a victim (Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck) and then coming up with 26 characters who wanted to kill him. It is part genre exploration and part world-building exercise.

Today’s possible killer is Doctor Daniel. He’s the local G.P., and one of few people in the village who even sort of likes Sir Adam.


Sir Adam seems, to all outward appearances, to be a robustly healthy middle-aged man.

Doctor Daniel Waterford knows that this is not true. As Sir Adam’s doctor, Daniel knows that Sir Adam will be dead, of a painful and incurable cancer, within the year.

Daniel also admires Sir Adam rather intensely, because of the contributions to science that Sir Adam made as a young man. Daniel admits, when pressed, that Sir Adam hasn’t done anything really clever since, but he remains permanently in awe of the man who solved the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem. Sir Adam, who loves people being permanently in awe of him, has taken the man to his bosom, and they have become close friends.

Might Doctor Daniel have decided, for the sake of their friendship, to give Sir Adam a swifter way out? It is quite within his character to have done so. He does have a bit of a tendency to play God.


That’s it for Doctor Daniel! To be absolutely candid, I don’t buy him as a killer. I think this would be one of the extra motives that are casually thrown at the reader in a book, and just as casually dismissed. Perhaps the reader has just been introduced to Doctor Daniel, who has just been inspecting the body for the police. He stumps away, and one investigator looks after him with a thoughtful eye. Another investigator wants to know why, because thoughtful eyes are very suspicious. “I was just wondering,” the first investigator might say, “if maybe old Doctor Daniel played God here. They were awfully close, you know.” The two investigators then never mention this suspicion again.

So I really don’t think Doctor Daniel would be seriously considered as a suspect. But a writer might throw a little bit of suspicion Doctor Daniel’s way just for fun. Or to make the reader slightly doubt his medical report about the death.

Anyway, now I’ve made Sir Adam into a former scientist (more on that anon!) and I’ve given him a secret terminal illness. Of course, that could always be a misdiagnosis. Or Sir Adam may not, at the time of his murder, know he is terminally ill. Still, the character of Sir Adam is taking shape, defined by the motives I think of for his murder.

And, if I think Doctor Daniel would make a poor choice for murderer (at least with the motive I’ve thought up for him), I think he’d make an excellent second victim. A doctor tends to know lots of secrets, and he was a confidante of the late Sir Adam…

What do you think? Would Doctor Daniel make a convincing suspect in a book? Would he make an interesting second victim? What new suspicions would Doctor Daniel’s murder suggest to your mind?

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  1. I think if the good doctor became the second victim, greater suspicion would fall on the wife. After all, doctor-patient confidentiality would prohibit him from sharing any of Sir Adam’s secrets with anyone but her.

    Of course, if the murderer (not Sir Adam’s wife) realized that, whoever it is might use it as part of a plot to frame her.

    • Hm… interesting angle! Although I wonder if Annabelle is exactly the kind of wife who’d be interested in having confidential chats with the doctor about her husband’s health. I guess she might figure it is to her advantage to know…

  2. Hot take: Dr Daniel IS the murderer (because doctors are ALWAYS suspicious), and his motive is that Sir Adam was blackmailing him (because anyone who blackmails once may well have multiple victims). BUT, Dr Daniel tried to pass it off as suicide, claiming that Sir Adam killed himself to avoid the inevitable suffering at the end of the terrible disease… which Sir Adam did not actually have, because we have only Dr Daniel’s word for this disease at all! Voila! (We don’t actually yet know how Sir Adam was killed, do we? So for purposes of this theory I shall assume that it was overdose of pain meds or something.)
    While I’m at it, I shall also suspect that in fact Sir Adam did not solve the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem, but in fact stole the entire thesis from some other poor scientist… by BLACKMAILING them! Is there no end to the dastardly deeds of this detestable devil? Come to think of it, perhaps Dr Daniel’s motive was disillusionment at discovering the dishonesty of his idol?

    • Aha!!!! I like your wonderfully convoluted ideas about Dr. Daniel. He isn’t really Sir Adam’s friend, and the fact that he is secretly dying is secretly not true. Several layers of deceit! Like some sort of layer-cake of lies! Or… yeah, that’s slightly incoherent, but I am leaving it in. Cake!

      And as for solving the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem… more anon!

  3. First off, this is a great AtoZ theme idea! Second, I don’t think the good Doctor sounds malicious enough to be your killer. (I hope I’m not wrong. Haha!)

  4. Yeah, well. I agree that the doctor looks more like a victime than a murderer. I like the idea of the keeper of secrets. I also like the idea of the misdiagnosis. There’s a lot of storytellign potentials in a diagnosis.
    What if the doctor was wrogn about his diagnosis, but inted of keep it to himself, he told someone?
    But then, if tha tsomeone thought that Sir Adam woudl sson be dead, why killing him?

    The Old Shelter – Enter the New Woman

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