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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking…

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a… (2008)

by Kate Summerscale

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9161592,928 (3.45)315
Recently added byrena75, SteBi, asxz
  1. 70
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Victorian crime
  2. 70
    Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Lady Audley's Secret (1862) mirrors the themes of the real-life Constance Kent case (1860).
  3. 30
    The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both books are examples of Victorian social history at its best.
  4. 20
    The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower (mysterymax)
    mysterymax: Again, an example of a true crime having a profound influence on the mystery genre.
  5. 20
    The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  6. 10
    Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (alalba)
    alalba: There are some similarities in the stories, that include the murder investigarion and trial.
  7. 10
    The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (hairball)
  8. 10
    Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes by Mary S. Hartman (susanbooks)
  9. 00
    Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The Unsolved Murder that Shocked Victorian England by Paul Thomas Murphy (schmootc)
  10. 00
    Bleak House by Charles Dickens (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Dickens' Inspector Bucket may have been based on Jonathan "Jack" Whicher.
  11. 00
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (libelulla1)
    libelulla1: Both are true crime told in narrative format and the crime in each is never fully explained, only speculated about.
  12. 00
    Crippen: A Novel of Murder by John Boyne (sanddancer)
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    The Library Paradox by Catherine Shaw (hairball)
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    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Devil In the White City and The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher are compelling and richly detailed books about historical true crime. These stories present not only details about the crime but also about the social mores of the time.

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» See also 315 mentions

English (150)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Fascinating account of the Road Hill House murder in 1860, setting it in the context of the early days of police detection in Britain and pointing forward to its influence on the British, Agatha Christie style of whodunnit detective fiction ever since.

A three-year-old boy is abducted from his bed during the night and after a search the next day his dead body is found stuffed down an outside toilet. Was the murderer the nursemaid, caught in bed with her employer? Or was it his jealous half-sister, possibly suffering from hereditary insanity? Inspector Whicher investigates. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Dec 10, 2018 |
As far as historical true crime goes, this was a good read. Despite the case being mostly solved, the author managed to keep some suspense going and kept my interest through the whole book. I also really enjoyed learning how this one particular murder influenced SO many Victorian thrillers including ones that I wouldn't have guessed like Lady Audley's Secret. ( )
  echoechokg | Sep 21, 2018 |
Three-year-old murder victim Saville Kent had a tragically short life, but the investigation of his death had a lasting influence on popular culture and literature. Jonathan “Jack” Whicher, the Scotland Yard investigator called in from London, epitomized the new profession of detective inspector. He was an inspiration for a number of literary characters, including Dickens' Inspector Bucket (Bleak House), Collins' Sergeant Cuff (The Moonstone), and Braddon's Robert Audley (Lady Audley's Secret). Collins wove details from the “Road House murder” into the plot of The Moonstone. Readers with an interest in the history of crime and detective fiction will gain new insight into the early development of this genre. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 27, 2018 |
Four-year-old Saville Kent is murdered in his own home. Although originally placed in the hands of local police, the matter is turned over to Jack Whicher who almost immediately suspects daughter Constance of the crime. However, charges do not stick. Whicher is discredited. The crime is confessed a few years later. The crime is interesting because of its influence on the new detective genre of fiction. Both Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone and Charles Dickens in his unfinished work The Mystery of Edwin Drood used the real case in the village of Road, Wiltshire, now Rode, Somerset, as a starting point in their works. The author informs readers of the future lives of the major characters in the case. While it is interesting, the writing is not flawless. I dislike the "hidden endnotes" employed in this work. Publishers need to quit using them. Give credit where credit is due, and let the reader know credit is being given. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 15, 2018 |
This book tells the true story of the murder of the four-year old son of a middle-class man in a country house outside the village of Road, Wiltshire in 1860 and its subsequent investigation. Mr Whicher of the title is one of the first detectives in England. Based in London, he is brought onto the case after several days during which the local police and magistrates are totally at a loss. His investigation leads to a member of the household being charged. But the speculation about the case brought on by constant press coverage leads to him being discredited and the charges dropped. The book covers subsequent events that lead to the eventual discovery of the perpetrator. But even then, there are suspicions that the full truth has not been revealed. The amount of investigation by the author to uncover the events and the subsequent lives of the family, other members of the household, and the detectives is truly astounding and worthy of any researcher or detective. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Jul 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
The case has been discussed many times, and Summerscale turns the spotlight on the detective. This would be interesting if she knew more about him, but the material is so threadbare that Whicher cannot buy a railway ticket without our being given a description of Paddington Station. Yet she omits crucial information about the ill-treatment of Constance's brother.
More important, Summerscale accomplishes what modern genre authors hardly bother to do anymore, which is to use a murder investigation as a portal to a wider world. When put in historical context, every aspect of this case tells us something about mid-Victorian society,

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Summerscaleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, SteveCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clays LimitedPrintersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach, sir? and a nasty thumping at the top of your head? Ah! not yet? It will lay hold of you...I call it the detective-fever.
From The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins
To my sister, Juliet
First words
This is the story of a murder committed in an English country house in 1860, perhaps the most disturbing murder of its time.
Perhaps this is the purpose of detective investigations, real and fictional -- to transform sensation, horror and grief into a puzzle, and then solve the puzzle, to make it go away. 'The detective story,' observed Raymond Chandler in 1949, 'is a tragedy with a happy ending.'
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Recounts the events surrounding the 1830 murder of three-year-old Saville Kent and explores the police investigation into the crime, which led to family members becoming prime suspects, while local residents began to doubt the efficiency of the lead investigator as the crime went unsolved for years.


To see what we have got to see -- The horror and amazement -- Shall not God search this out? -- A man of mystery -- Every clue seems cut off -- Something in her dark cheek -- Shape-shifters -- All tight shut up -- I know you -- To look at a star by glances -- What games goes on -- Detective-fever -- A general putting of this and that together by the wrong end -- Women! Hold your tongues! -- Like a crave -- Better she be mad -- My love turned -- Surely our real detective liveth -- Fairy-lands of fact -- The music of the scythe on the lawn outside.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747596484, Paperback)

This is the story of a murder committed in an English country house in 1860. The search for the killer threatened the career of one of the first and greatest detectives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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 the land, Jonathan Whicher of Scotland Yard. Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable--that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today ... from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 13 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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