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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher Paperback – 26 Jul 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 395 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (26 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074759922X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599227
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Summerscale has constructed nothing less than a masterpiece. My shelves are stacked with books about crime, but none more satisfying than this.' -- Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

A tour de force. It sweeps us irresistibly into the investigation, turning us into armchair detectives... Under the spell of [her] scrupulous intelligence and mesmerizing research' -- The Daily Mail

Summerscale has done excellent research in ferreting out the details of this curious case . . . a remarkable achievement.' -- The Sunday Times

Summerscale has produced not only a dazzling non-fiction thriller, but also an acute work of literary and social history.' -- The Daily Express

Very simply, this is a fantastic book, fantastically written and it's a book of deep moral purpose.
-- Ekow Eshun, Newsnight Review

Book Description

The fascinating story of a famous Victorian murder case - and the notorious detective who solved it --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is as much a history of Victorian social values and the emerging field of detective fiction in the nineteenth century as it is a book about a hideous country house murder in 1860. Researched using original police papers from the National Archives, books on the crime and many more sources, the book tells the story of the Road Hill House murder of 1860, when a three year old boy was brutally slain by another occupant of his home. The book sets out to detail the case, from the original event to the investigation by Scotland Yard detective Jack Whicher, to the aftermath suffered by the entire family.

It's extremely well written and well researched, and even though there is little to add suspense considering anyone with an Internet connection can discover the identity of the murderer, Summerscale still manages to inject a certain air of tension into proceedings, drawing things out as they must have unfolded at the time. With a peculiar ability to grab your attention and hold it firmly, the book is difficult to put down, and a thoroughly fascinating read for anyone with an interest in detective fiction, real life crime or a historical period that throws up as many questions as it answers.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The murder of a young child which took place at Road Hill House, Wiltshire in 1860 captured the imagination of the public and turned everyone into amateur detectives. The perfect example of a country house murder with a finite amount of suspects also inspired writers of the time such as Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

'The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher' is structured so that first, we learn the details of the crime, then we learn about the investigation which leads on to what happened next and the author's own theory based on the evidence. To say this book is well-researched in something of an understatement; if someone goes through a toll road, we know how much they pay; if someone moves to London we find out who they lived next door to; if someone left a will, we find out exactly what they left and to whom. I'm sure this level of detail would be irritating to some, but I found it absolutely incredible!

The book is also interesting in giving us a taste of the time, the attitudes of the people, the ways in which the Police force was growing and how events were shaping literature.

This is an extraordinary achievement and engrossing throughout. I can't wait to see what she will come up with next!
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Format: Hardcover
I was slightly disappointed. The author did a fantastic job piecing together the wealth of information about the case -- newspaper reports, official records, letters, interview notes, etc. We know what everyone did in great detail. The author was careful to stick to the facts. She didn't fictionalize or make assumptions. That's good reporting. However, the result was that I was unable to connect with or feel sympathy for any of the people involved, even poor little Savile. All I had was facts, and facts can't put flesh on these people.

It's a good read, but it felt like something was missing. It's not the author's fault though. Unlike today's true crime writers, she didn't have the benefit of personal observation of the players. They just never came to life for me.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up, because it seemed to be everywhere when I went in bookshops or online, and it sounded intriguing. (Even before it became one of Richard and Judy's book club choices). The book seller said to persevere as you needed to concentrate, very true and recommended to any who wish to read this.

Kate Summerscale successfully weaves a real life murder at Road Hill House with how the public and the police reacted to such a horrific crime. KS gives us throughout the book, the biography of all the key characters of the Kent household, their servants and immediate neighbours. The position of detective Jack Whicher renowned of the newly formed metropolitan police at Scotland Yard, his career is laid bare for everyone to read as well as how he deals with the crime which has affected the Kent family.

The history lesson is throughout the book, what life was like in 1860 and the subsequent years. Domesticity, status and how the police were considered and treated, social history at its best if like me studied it at university. The connection with crime writers of the time is cleverly weaved within and you get to see that detective stories were a new invention and so much seems to have been related back to the Murder at Road Hill House.

The crime gripped the whole nation, and the press the length and breadth of the country became consumed in who did it and why? Theories were muted and everyone who was everyone had an opinion whoever they were and whatever class they were. The newspapers lived on the hysteria it provoked. There is such a comparison to today's media, and how they consume the majority of the newspapers with theories and information intended to shock but also get people talking and buying more newspapers!
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Format: Paperback
This book, which has won prizes and many plaudits this year, is the true story of a murder that occured in Road, Somerset in the middle of the 19th Century.

This might not grab you as all that noteworthy, but it grabbed public opinion at the time and contributed to the growth of a new type of book, the murder mystery in a country house, that the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie would make their own only a few years latter.

This book is interesting and if you're in any way intregued in this sort of history, you should consider reading this book. If you're not someone who typically reads factual books, however, you might find this book slighty dry and cold if I'm honest with you.
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