2012: 45. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

"This is the story of a murder committed in an English country house in 1860, perhaps the most disturbing murder of its time."

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale

      This is one of the best books I've read this year, bar none.  It's a historical true crime story - but really, it's as good as any popular history I've read.  It's the story of a famous British crime (the Constance Kent case, if that means anything to you - it might, if you've read as much Christie and Famous British Trials as I have).  In 1860 the Kent family awoke to find three year old Saville Kent missing.  A few hours later, his body was found in the privy - with his throat slit.  The news was sensational, but policework was in its infancy, and the locals made a mess of the crime scene. A detective from London was called in - Inspector Whicher - one of the first times that had ever happened.  Whicher was a celebrity - he was one of the first detectives, and he had been the basis for characters by Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and a number of other Victorian novels.  Whicher thinks he knows who dunnit, but can he prove his suspicions?

    The crime story alone is interesting, of course, but what makes this book phenomenal is how Summerscale uses the crime and reactions to it to expand our understanding of Victorian society, and manages to do it without being boring and academic.  Well-written, interesting, with a phenomenal ending (and let's face it, most historical crime books end with well, here are the theories, but we'll never really know - not to spoil but NOT THIS ONE), I can't recommend this more highly.  Loved it.

Categories:  Non-Fiction, Library Book , Best Books of the Year

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017