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“I did not realize when I put this on my book wish list that this was a work of nonfiction. The Mr Whicher of the title is one Detective Jonathan Whicher, who in 1860, was asked by local Wiltshire police to investigate the very heinous murder of a little boy, aged 4. It seems that when his...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Interesting bit of history, but a drag in many places and leaves you with the feeling that the author was struggling to complete a certain number of pages”see full review » see other reviews »
“Kate Summerscale manages with this book to tread that fine line, much like a high wire artist, between fact and fiction. The way she manages it is always with a disciplined hand. Anyone who has attempted to write a history while combining flourishes of drama to enhance the telling will know how difficult a task this is. Kate does it with style and panache never crossing into conjecture, always presenting the facts and yet ably adding enough narrative tension to capture the readers attention.
Her dissection of the myth of the Victorian nuclear family reveals much. Her character definition of Jack Whicher, one of the first of Britain's police detective's is remarkable.
The murder itself is presented in frank and ghastly detail as is the odd phobias and bizarre rules that regulated polite English society in those days.
She never forgets this is a true history. She steers away from melodrama allowing facts to flesh out the drama. She alos manages, by way of relating the times the story took place in, to highlight the differences in stark detail between then and now. For example the word secretive came into common usage in the 1850's.
On this effort alone I shall visit Kate's backlog. ”
“Interesting bit of history, but a drag in many places and leaves you with the feeling that the author was struggling to complete a certain number of pages”RajaSelvaraj wrote this review Tuesday, August 27, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Book on CD read by Simon Vance
The introduction of this book begins: This is the story of a murder committed in an English country house in 1860, perhaps the most disturbing murder of its time.
Kate Summerscale recreates the events of one specific night, when a child was taken from his bed and brutally murdered. The local constable was not equipped to truly evaluate the crime. Due to the prominence of the family involved, Scotland Yard sent its best Detective Inspector, Jonathan Whicher, to investigate the murder at Road Hill. Suspicion originally settled on the governess, with an assumption that she was having an affair which the child witnessed. However, Whicher noticed discrepancies in the various witnesses’ stories and, was relentless in questioning family members. His methods were considered intrusive and unorthodox, and eventually he was taken off the case. By the time the truth was revealed a few years later, Whicher had retired.
The crime gained much attention in England (and beyond). Among those who noticed were Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The case marked the beginning of the public’s fascination with murder mysteries, and inspired generations of fictional detectives. I found it fascinating but a bit dry, especially once the murderer has been revealed. I did like that the author followed the various family members into the middle of the 20th century.
Simon Vance is a talented voice artist and he does an admirable job of this book. There are many characters and he is able to sufficiently differentiate the voices to make it easy for the listener to keep them straight.
“No where near as good as mrs Robinson...”possumlove wrote this review Sunday, June 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interesting, but very dry. At times it seemed to be a recounting of facts. It did give a pretty clear picture of Victorian England...from the new 'science' of criminal detection, to the new art of the mystery novel, the annual salaries of the middle class, and the household process of sending the laundry out. ”Kathleen S wrote this review Saturday, April 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Review at: http://booksinthespotlight.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-suspicions-of-mr-whicher-shocking.html”Cullengirl l wrote this review Thursday, October 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
In 1860, in a country house in England, a little boy was taken from his bedroom and murdered in the night. It appeared that it must have been someone already inside the house who did it. It was the mid-1800s when detectives were first employed. Mr. Whicher was one of the first detectives at Scotland Yard and was assigned the case at Road Hill House.
This book not only looks at that particular case, but also tells us a bit of history of detectives and detecting. The best part of the book is the murder case, itself, for sure. And that is the main focus. Most of the detective history was interesting, but I have to admit that there were parts where my mind wandered a bit, as well. There were a lot of parallels (with the case itself, as well as with random detective history) to contemporary fiction, with detective stories being a new thing at the time. I'm not sure why that was added into the book; some of it I found interesting, but other parts, I could have done without. Overall, though, I did enjoy the book, and I have to admit that I was a bit surprised as to how unwilling a lot of people were at the time to allow detectives to come into their homes to investigate something as “big” as a murder!”
“This was a very good true crime novel about the advent of detectives and a brutal murder in 1860.”John Stevenson wrote this review Wednesday, February 6, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“in de versie van Knack ... leuk sfeertje ...”Marc Decroos wrote this review Tuesday, January 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A short, focused book that explores one murder in Victorian England, and the efforts of the Scotland Yard detective to find the killer. Although it sometimes felt like there were reading prerequisites (good thing I had read Woman in White), I thought this was a well-researched and well-written book.
I could have done with less in the way of describing the Victorian mind-set via literary fiction references and quotations and more in the way of factual explanations. The scholarship in terms of research was definitely there, and the way the case wrapped up was unexpected and interesting.”