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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of A Great Victorian Detective

Summerscale, Kate

(Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
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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.
Publisher: New York : Walker & Company : Distributed to the trade by Macmillan, 2008
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 0802715354
9780802715357
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 S955s 2008
Characteristics: xxiii, 360 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill. (some col.), maps ;,22 cm

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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

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 W... Read More »


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Nov 18, 2013
  • InvernessS rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Kind of dry reading however! it's related to the Railway Murder in 1864 of which Richard (Dick) Tanner the very first 'inspector' whose job was similarly based the fictional Sherlock Holms. Tanner is buried at Winchester West Hill Cemetery. Further interest see PBS Secrets of Scotland Yard 11/2013 Excellent.

Aug 18, 2012
  • KatSu rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Oh dear, I was really disappointed in this, it read like a police report, very boring, I kept going only because I wanted to find out what happened, and believe it or not I am really not sure I did.

Aug 04, 2012
  • hgeng63 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Really outstanding--a Victorian true crime that reads like a mystery! This was the "O.J. Simpson" -like case of the day.

Jul 15, 2012
  • loonylovesgood rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I found this very fascinating - a really good documentary of a Victorian murder mystery. I couldn't put it down!

Jun 13, 2012
  • alleycat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Outstanding non-fiction read ... Summerscale apparently had trouble reigning herself in while researching this piece. Not just a fascinating true-crime work set in Victorian England, this is also an incredibly interesting take on family ties and sleuth history. I'd also like to add that the book won the prestigious Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction in 2008.

May 18, 2011
  • ladybugg rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very interesting,very well written,lots of good information of the beginnings of detective and police work.

Mar 14, 2011
  • Algonquin_Lisa rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Well-written and really keeps the reader's attention. Didn't blow me away, but it's a pretty good read.

Jun 08, 2009
  • KarenW rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In June of 1860 a young child goes missing from his middle class home only to be found dead a day later, his body hidden in the outside privy. The shocking murder is vicious and cruel as the neck of the little boy is almost cut completely off. Then along with the shock, the recriminations begin - it must have been someone in the house at the time! And the house is full of suspects that also include the family. Enter Mr. Whicher, one of Scotland Yards greatest detectives. Before long Whicher reaches an unpopular conclusion that is revealed with all its gory detail and sexual innuendo in the tabloids. Not your average true crime this book reads like a historical mystery novel with many twists and turns until it reaches its surprising conclusion.

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