Donna's Reviews > The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
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's review
May 25, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, 2012-read, ebook, mystery
Read from January 12 to February 11, 2012

Recently I made a resolution to read more non-fiction books so that I could expand my horizons and also add context to the fiction novels I so love to read. This was one of my first choices, and it was, unfortunately, a bad one.

The story that the book tells is intriguing enough. A family in Victorian England goes to sleep one night and wakes to find one of its youngest members, a boy named Saville Kent, brutally stolen from his crib and murdered. Suspicion immediately falls upon everyone from complete strangers to members of the Kent household. Jonathan Whicher, a rising star in the burgeoning London police force (a precursor to Scotland Yard) is sent to find the culprit. Over the course of his investigation, he finds evidence has been tampered with, servants have been silenced, and the family has closed ranks. His greatest suspicions lie with Constance and William, the children of Mr. Kent's first wife. In the end, he stakes his job and reputation on his findings, and becomes vilified when the public takes Constance's side and finds her innocent.

I found it nearly impossible to finish this book, and I only pushed through to the end to find out what happened to the Kent family and Whicher, which I could have honestly just read about on Wikipedia with more comprehension and less wasted time. I think Kate Summerscale's writing style was very dry and unappealing. Her style of jumping around in the narrative and going on tangents about Dickens and the formation of Scotland Yard made the story very muddled and confusing. Her greatest problem was failing to make any of the characters real for the reader. In essence she wrote a dry, boring report about the murders, and delved little into the psychology or emotions of the family involved. I had no sense of Whicher as a real person, and none of the action in this book has stayed with me.

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Reading Progress

01/28/2012 page 180
06/03/2016 marked as: read

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