The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
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
This is a version of the true murder investigation, which occurred in Road Hill House on 30th June 1860 in Rode in Wiltshire. The death of 3-year-old Francis Savill Kent became a national outrage and a widespread public condemnation towards the middle-class lifestyles and values. What went on behind closed doors? What can money and social class cover-up?
What was fact, was that behind locked doors the murder occurred and the murderer was one of the household staff or family. Mr Jonathan ...more
This is a true crime story about the gruesome murder of a child in Victorian England.
In mid-1860, the relatively prosperous Kent family lived in a large house on Road Hill in the county of Kent, southeast of Greater London.
The Kents' Road Hill house
The county of Kent is southeast of Greater London
Samuel Kent and his second wife Mary were raising six children, four from Samuel's first marriage, and two from their union. In addition, Mary was pregnant again. (Note: In the course of her life, Mary ...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
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
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
I enjoyed reading about Mr. Whicher and I suffered with him when the public opinion dragged him down. But what I enjoyed the most is being taken through the genesis of something we take for granted nowadays: the police force.
The tale is surprisingly modern: the media jumped on the story from the start, complaint about the detective work an ...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
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
Considering I'm quite local to the area near where this happened in 1860, I had no idea about this shocking real-life murder until I found a copy of this book in a charity shop. A young three-year-old boy is found slain outside the family home and fingers get pointed around various occupants including the victim's older siblings and the servants. Although I liked how accurate the geography was, the pacing was very slow-going. Most of the characters I wasn't keen on, due to their suspic ...more
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is at its essence a non-fiction true crime novel about the 1860 Road Hill murder case. One night, the 3-year-ol ...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
That said, the mystery is excellent (with genuine clues, red herrings and all): and Inspector Whicher is as enthralling ...more
Calling upon the Government to send one of its newly created detectives to solve the case (and receiving the titular Mr Whicher, one of their best), at first th ...more
A well-researched book about a) a sensational crime in 1860 England, and b) how people reacted to the new detective force investigating it. It traces the change from half-thief thieftakers to the more staid, respectable detective force--and why. I kept throwing my hands in the air at the way people protested the detective doing his job (although it made perfect sense, from their closeted, secretive perspective).
The horrific murder of a child (called the Road Murder)brings Mr. Whicher, one of the first detectives of Scotland Yard onto the scene. Although he identifies the murderer in a short time, the public refuses to accept his conclusions and he suffers public scorn. Running through the narrative are references to the ...more
|YCLD Book Club: Why yes, there IS a movie!||1||8||Sep 21, 2020 09:32AM|
|YCLD Book Club: Gender and Crime||2||9||Sep 14, 2020 06:00PM|
|YCLD Book Club: Class Relations||1||9||Sep 09, 2020 09:25AM|
|History & Mystery: I will keep this as the group currently reading||11||9||Mar 13, 2020 11:10AM|
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
(Editorial, The Times, 22 July 1853)”