The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.
In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in th...more
It seems Kate Summerscale felt a need to give us every niggling detail she was able to dig up about the murder, its coverage by the press at the ti...more
This is an amazing book. Rarely have I read a book which has been so meticulously researched. There is an unbelievable amount of detail about the origins of official police detective work, the personalities involved, the journalism of the mid-nineteenth century, the Kent family of Road, the famous and not-so-famous people of that time, and the continuing history of the characters involved into the twentieth century.
So, if I think that this book's...more
If you like detective novels...
If you are interested in the development of the novel...
If you have any interest in the development of the science of forensics...
If you like true crime...
If you enjoy good factual writing...
If you like a good story...
... then this book has it all. It's like the author asked me to write a list of all the things I like to read most, shook them up in a shaker and came out with the perfect book.
I drove my husband nuts while I...more
Those are the book's flaws. I acknowledge their existence, and will now proceed to completely disreg...more
So here's the deal: the research was thorough, the writing - scientific, unimaginative and drowned in endless details. Not to mention the characters, w...more
YET, it was much less riveting than my beloved Death at the Priory. It was impossible not to compare the two Victorian murders and Death at the Priory wins hands down. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher was dry as dust and spent far too much time comparing the historical person, Mr. Whicher, with the development of the burgeoning genre of detective novels l...more
I didn't pay for 200 pages of what read like some friggin mediocre senior honors thesis. I don't care about how the murder turned up in Wiklie Collins, I don't care what Dickens thought about the crime, I don't care which novels it inspired. This book was just saturated with end-notes, footnotes, and quotes ... not that they were distractin...more
Mr Whicher, the Detective called in to this particular case, was one of the first ever Scotland Yard Detectives which came with its own share of su...more
I suspect part of the problem is that as a former true crime aficionado I knew everything Summerscale wrote about in this book. Some of the detail from the maids was new, but for the most part there was nothing new in this book for me, down to the lay out of the house to the man who foun...more
At the core of this is the brutal murder of a young child. In that respect it is not for the faint of heart. In 1860 England professional detectives were a relatively new occupation. Mr. Whicher was called to the scene a full 2 weeks after the crime. A...more
That is my favorite quote from this non-fiction recount of a 19th century murder that spawned the age of the detective novel and became the catalyst for sensationalism of murder and tragic events in history. A very interesting and educational book that reads as a work of fiction, the likes of which Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle could have written. This is the story of the mysterious case of a three-year-old child who was found dead at the b...more
The crime in question is the murder of three year old Saville Kent. In 1860, in the...more
That said, the mystery is excellent (with genuine clues, red herrings and all): and Inspector Whicher is as enthralling...more
Summerscale does a really good job of pacing the book just like your typical mystery book might be paced. And the fact that nothing contained within is fiction, is all the more impressive.
She also interweaves discussions on how this particular murder and its main detective, Mr. Whicher, went on to inspire nearly all future detective fiction, as...more
At its core the book looks at the murder of three year old Saville Kent in 1860, who is taken from his...more
This is a non-fiction account of a most chilling crime. In a middle-class Victorian household, a little boy is taken from his crib, first suffocated, then his throat cut, and then dumpted in a privy. A window is left open and suggest an outside foe, but suspicion soon transfers to almost all the home's inhabitants in turn, gradually uncovering dark secret...more
I got pretty much what I expected. It's a whodunit tale, a true story about a much-sensationalised murder committed in a locked country mansion at night. The murder is gruesome, the suspects numerous, the police typically baffled.
Summerscale is great at sorting out all her different sources to keep the story moving along nicely. She...more
The protagonist of this real-life story, Detective Whicher, never comes...more
She won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction in 2008 with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House and won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1998 (and was shortlisted for the 1997 Whitbread Awards for biography) for the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, about Joe Carstairs, 'fastest woman on water'.
As a journa...more
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(Editorial, The Times, 22 July 1853)”