Unveiling the Past: Research Methods for Crafting a Historical Legal Thriller with 1800s Medical Forensics as Evidence

When writing a historical fiction novel, the task of weaving an enthralling legal thriller set in the 1800s demands more than just literary prowess; it requires meticulous research to authentically recreate the era’s legal system and medical forensics. Transporting readers to a bygone era, where justice was sought through intricate legal battles and emerging medical techniques, necessitates a disciplined approach to historical accuracy. Here’s a closer look at the research methods I used when crafting Veil of Doubt.

Historical Research

Before delving into medical forensics, an intimate understanding of the time period is imperative. I did comprehensive historical research by immersing myself in the political, social, and cultural milieu of the 1800s. This provided the necessary backdrop for the legal proceedings and the characters’ lives. In the case of Veil of Doubt, the research had to also encompass legal practices, societal norms, technological advancements, and notable historical events that could influence the story’s progression.

Legal Practices and Procedures

Understanding legal practices and procedures of the Reconstruction Era in Virginia was To create a compelling legal thriller, you must grasp the legal processes of the era. I researched court systems, trial procedures, and legal language of the 1800s in order to imbue the narrative with authenticity. Historical accounts, legal documents, and records of famous trials from the Reconstruction Era in Virginia provided invaluable insights into the dynamics of legal proceedings, including the strategies employed by lawyers, the roles of judges and jurors, and the treatment of evidence.

Medical Forensics

Medical forensics in the 1800s was a nascent field, ripe with potential for dramatic storytelling. Studying historical medical texts, treatises, and case studies allowed me to accurately depict the methods available for examining corpses, identifying causes of death, and presenting medical evidence in court. From autopsy techniques to toxicology tests, understanding the limitations and breakthroughs of medical science in that era lend credibility to plot twists and turns in Veil of Doubt.

Primary Sources and Accounts

Primary sources, such as letters, diaries, newspapers, and personal accounts, provided invaluable glimpses into the daily lives and attitudes of people during the 1800s. I was very lucky to have access to diaries and letters of some of the characters in the book. Materials like these offered firsthand perspectives on the medical and legal systems, as well as insights into how individuals perceived and interacted with these institutions. These sources can also reveal the prevailing beliefs, biases, and societal norms that can shape the characters’ motivations and interactions.

Experts and Consultants

I engaged with experts in the fields of history, law, and medicine to elevate the authenticity of the narrative. Historians, legal scholars, and medical professionals provided insights, corrected inaccuracies, and offer suggestions to ensure that the portrayal of historical legal and medical practices was accurate. Their guidance helped me navigate the complex topics found in Veil of Doubt and ensured that the narrative remained true to the spirit of the time.

Site Visits and Immersion

I was very lucky to live in the town where my book takes place. I was literally able to walk in the footsteps of my characters: past their homes, offices, gravesites, and even visited the insane asylum that Powell Harrison defended. I immersed myself in the physical remnants of the 1800s to spark inspiration and provide sensory details that enrich the storytelling experience. This provided a tangible connection to the characters and the era.

Balancing Historical Accuracy and Creative License

While accuracy is paramount, creative license is also essential in crafting a captivating narrative. As with Masque of Honor, in Veil of Doubt by using my best judgement, I struck a balance between historical fidelity and storytelling creativity. The goal is to transport readers to the past while maintaining an engaging and suspenseful plot. In conclusion, crafting a historical legal thriller set in the 1800s with medical forensics as evidence demands a robust and multifaceted research approach. Thoroughly understanding the historical context, legal practices, and medical advancements of the era is essential for creating an immersive and believable narrative. Through diligent research, collaboration with experts, and a judicious use of creative license, I was able to transport readers back in time to experience the intrigue, drama, and justice-seeking of a bygone era.