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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

Ditulis oleh Kate Summerscale

Diceritakan oleh Simon Vance


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

Ditulis oleh Kate Summerscale

Diceritakan oleh Simon Vance

peringkat:
4/5 (115 peringkat)
Panjangnya:
9 hours
Dirilis:
Oct 15, 2008
ISBN:
9781598878530
Format:
Buku Audio

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Deskripsi

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.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

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 Sergeant Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.

Dirilis:
Oct 15, 2008
ISBN:
9781598878530
Format:
Buku Audio

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Tentang penulis

Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, winner of the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Kate Summerscale has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in north London.


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  • (4/5)
    3.75 starsIn 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!
  • (3/5)
    Three-year-old Saville Kent was murdered in 1860 on the grounds of the family's country estate. Mr. Whicher is one of the first detectives in England, and he demonstrates his best work in trying to solve the case.This case appealed to me and some of the details relating to the timeframe were of great interest; however, overall - I felt it lacked some spunk. There were many facts repeated, and the story dragged a bit. The book also contained the history of other family members and the era, most of which I liked learning about. (3.25/5)Originally posted on: Thoughts of Joy
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    This is a fairly recent look at a sensational 1860 murder case which had its own contemporary 1861 account in The Great Crime of 1860; Being a Summary of the Facts Relating to the Murder Committed at Road, a Critical Review of Its Social and Scientific Aspects and a mid-20th century re-examination in 1955's The Tragedy at Road-Hill House.Summerscale uses the facts of the case to also tell the story of the first Scotland Yard detectives and particularly of the titular Mr. Whicher who was one of 8 original detective inspectors from 1842 onwards. The 1860 case wasn't solved at the time and Whicher's proposed solution was not proven, bringing discredit to his career until an 1865 confession seemed to substantiate his earlier theory. Both the 1955 study and Summerscale's 2008 book offer alternative or extended explanations for the crime.Summerscale also provides a good number of references to the detective fiction of the 19th century, some of which took inspiration from Detective Inspector Whicher who had otherwise had an excellent record of crime-solving. Whicher is thus shown to be an inspiration for Sergeant Cuff in The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins.This was the Audible Daily Deal on March 5, 2017 for $3.95.
  • (5/5)
    If you are only interested in a crime fiction novel or a novelized "true crime" book that claims to have all the answers, go elsewhere. The difference with true crime is that we can't jump inside the heads of the people involved and find out what they are really thinking. In reality life is not black and white and motives are not simple or simple to read. It is really hard to second guess the investigations and the opinions from 160 years ago.

    This is an absolutely fabulous book about a murder in the 1860s. It is not fiction, but "true crime" but the author is very familiar with not only crime, but crime and detective fiction of that era, and peppers the book with both. It is very well written. Whether you like true crime or are interested in the history of the detective novel you will find this book fascinating.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    Couldn't finish this. I borrowed the audiobook version from the library and while Kate Summerscale's writing is smooth and crisp, presented in an excellent narration by Simon Vance, I couldn't get over the distressing fact that the crime was true. Someone really did it; this isn't a nicely entertaining, fabricated mystery story of the kind I usually enjoy. I am also a bit sensitive to violence against children at the moment, as I'm eight months pregnant and getting ready to welcome my own son into this crazy world. So, despite the fascinating period marking the beginning of real-world police detection, I just couldn't finish. I can tell it's well written, though (if a little slow moving), and other readers lacking my hangups may find it quite good.
  • (4/5)
    Truly fascinating read that reminds us how truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, or at least just as dramatically bleak.
  • (2/5)
    Couldn't finish this. I borrowed the audiobook version from the library and while Kate Summerscale's writing is smooth and crisp, presented in an excellent narration by Simon Vance, I couldn't get over the distressing fact that the crime was true. Someone really did it; this isn't a nicely entertaining, fabricated mystery story of the kind I usually enjoy. I am also a bit sensitive to violence against children at the moment, as I'm eight months pregnant and getting ready to welcome my own son into this crazy world. So, despite the fascinating period marking the beginning of real-world police detection, I just couldn't finish. I can tell it's well written, though (if a little slow moving), and other readers lacking my hangups may find it quite good.
  • (4/5)
    Found this on the remainder table and glad I picked it up. I wasn't familiar with this period and enjoyed learning about its quirks. I was feeling sorry for Mr. Whicher and am certainly glad he was vindicated. Though there's perhaps still a bit of a mystery there = one which probably will never be solved.
  • (2/5)
    This was fascinating, but also really dry. It was as much a commentary on how this murder shaped the world of detective novels as it was on the murder itself. At times I found myself skipping whole paragraphs just to get back to the murder account.

    It was also dry because it was written as a step by step, day by day accounting of the investigation. It was not in a story format at all so it was hard to become involved with the characters.
  • (2/5)
    Quite interesting but not written in a very engaging way - very dry and matter of fact. Managed to finish it though, but was a bit of a disappointment...
  • (3/5)
    I would have given this four stars, but I had an issue with the way the book was structured. The author seemed to be not clear about what she was writing-a historical mystery, social commentary about Nineteenth Century England, or an exploration of the evolution of the fictional detective. The narration constantly switched between these modes and grated on the nerves at times.

    That said, the mystery is excellent (with genuine clues, red herrings and all): and Inspector Whicher is as enthralling as any fictional detective, especially with regard to the one vital deduction which points to the solution of the mystery.

    I wish the author had structured the book differently, first giving us the mystery without any dressings and then analysing its social and literary impact. I feel it would have been more effective.

  • (3/5)
    The writing was pretty blah, but the story itself was sad and interesting, in its own way. If the writer had been less wrapped up in how many pounds, shillings, and pence everything cost and a bit more interested in writing flowing prose, it may have been a better read.
  • (4/5)
    This is a thoroughly-researched, highly readable history of a sensational murder investigation in Victorian England. The author has written a narrative history, so the final reveal of the murderer's identity is held until its proper place in the narrative. That sustained tension is very helpful, since the author also wants to use the case as a window onto broader themes of the era, which slows the book down. In particular, Summerscale has mined Victorian writers - Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and a slew of retired police memoirists - for passages that echo events and twists in the investigation. That's not a stretch; Dickens and Collins appear to have been strongly influenced by the case, with details of the crime and investigation showing up in some of their later plots. But it does mean that the thread of the core story is constantly disappearing behind cartloads of contextual scenery. The story itself reaches a suitably arresting conclusion - unless, of course, the official solution is still wrong.
  • (2/5)
    The title held great promise. The problem was that a truly riveting story was buried under huge drifts of detail and repetition. Still, it was much more thoroughly researched and better written/edited than most true-crime books. So it's all good if you would rather be educated than entertained.
  • (3/5)
    Well written but a disturbing storyline
  • (3/5)
    Kate Summerscale's book "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective" is an interesting story, but so oddly told.The brutal murder of 3-year-old Francis Saville Kent rocked Victorian England in 1860-- it was clear from the start that someone in the Kent household was responsible. But there were plenty of suspects and rumors that needed to be untangled. The real-life detective Jonathan Wicher is on the case. Very fascinating. The book often reads like a novel.What wasn't so interesting was Summerscale's approach. She seems to want to prove how well-read she is and mentions just about every great Victorian novel and somehow tries to relate it to the case. (No kidding, she mentions Dickens' Bleak House to say the fictional detective was based, not on Mr. Whicher, but someone Mr. Whicher knew.) I started skipping any paragraph with these mentions and I think it shortened the book by about 50 percent. I'm guessing Summerscale was an English major and this was her dissertation because otherwise the format makes little sense.Anyway, the actual story of the murder itself was interesting enough that I raced through to find out who committed the crime.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book a lot, but I did think it could have been better. There were some parts that seemed more like prurient gossip than analysis of historical documents (which I think is an issue of style and tone rather than content) and some parts that were quite repetitive. The absence of proper footnoting drove me insane. There are pages and pages of notes in the back, with source references and comment, but nothing in the text to refer you to them. Either you skip back and forth to see whether there's a footnote for that paragraph, or you ignore them completely. Presumably this was done to give an informal tone instead of making it seem academic, but it irritated me no end.Having got the criticisms out of the way, let me say that I did enjoy reading this book. I enjoyed it a lot. I found the social and literary history absolutely fascinating. The history of the police force was very well covered, and the account of the change in public perception of the detectives was fascinating. It was also interesting to see the inner workings of the Victorian police, and to read about the detective as a person rather than just as a detective.I very much enjoyed seeing how the development of detective fiction related to events then current in the news, and liked the way this analysis was woven into the narrative; The Woman in White and The Moonstone are both on my To Read pile, and I'm very keen now to read them and to see how the attitudes and events surrounding this case come out in them.The book is well researched, well constructed, and written in an engaging style.
  • (4/5)
    Have to admit I don't read non-fiction that often....and definately don't enjoy it like it I did this one.This book follows a crime which took place in 1860 in the village of Road (UK). The family Kent live in a Georgian House which every night is all shuttered up and locked away from the outside world - apart from one day where the house awakes to find that the youngest child of the Kents has been abducted. Later they find him murdered and one thing is certain that whoever did the deed lives in the house!Scotland Yards group of detectives had not long been started and one of their best was dispatched from London to solve the murder (Jack Whicher) but this turned out to be hard work for the beginning as his findings differed from the local police.This crime inspired many of the crime writers of the day (Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle) due to it classic who dunnit scenario. As well as this later in the book you see how books these authors write make use of the crime and lay out of the house in Road.A definate interesting read as it is made to be more fictional than real life.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book a lot, but I did think it could have been better. There were some parts that seemed more like prurient gossip than analysis of historical documents (which I think is an issue of style and tone rather than content) and some parts that were quite repetitive. The absence of proper footnoting drove me insane. There are pages and pages of notes in the back, with source references and comment, but nothing in the text to refer you to them. Either you skip back and forth to see whether there's a footnote for that paragraph, or you ignore them completely. Presumably this was done to give an informal tone instead of making it seem academic, but it irritated me no end.Having got the criticisms out of the way, let me say that I did enjoy reading this book. I enjoyed it a lot. I found the social and literary history absolutely fascinating. The history of the police force was very well covered, and the account of the change in public perception of the detectives was fascinating. It was also interesting to see the inner workings of the Victorian police, and to read about the detective as a person rather than just as a detective.I very much enjoyed seeing how the development of detective fiction related to events then current in the news, and liked the way this analysis was woven into the narrative; The Woman in White and The Moonstone are both on my To Read pile, and I'm very keen now to read them and to see how the attitudes and events surrounding this case come out in them.The book is well researched, well constructed, and written in an engaging style.
  • (4/5)
    I would have given this 5 stars, except that I later listened to some podcasts calling into question the veracity of some of the claims the author makes toward the end of the book. This threw me a little bit as the facts in the book are presented just that - facts - and not theories. Nonetheless, I search for more books like this one to listen to - so I obviously liked it!
  • (4/5)
    Great as an audiobook. The story dragged a bit at times, but overall very satisfying.
  • (4/5)
    A good narrator. Book is well written but often gets lost from its own story within a laberanth of side details and literary analysis that it struggles to break free from.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint4.5★'sFrom the Book:The portly, methodical Inspector Singh is a thorn in the side of his bosses on the Singapore police department, so they send him off to Malaysia to monitor the trial of Chelsea Liew, a Singaporean beauty queen accused of killing her abusive millionaire ex-husband. The plot, revolving around the difference between secular and Islamic custody laws, is unexpectedly intricate and surprising. But the keenest pleasures of this book center on Inspector Singh, and his attempts to see justice served while somehow maneuvering around his excessively zealous sergeant, keeping his white sneakers clean, and scoring the occasional tasty snack.My Thoughts:I really liked this book and will plan to read the remainder of the series. The story had everything a good murder mystery novel should have....very well written...many interesting characters... many suspects with good motives to have committed murder, and it brought focus on the destruction of the Borneo rainforest...and don't even get me started on that topic. I couldn't figure out who the killer was and that is always a good thing for me as it encourages me to use the old gray cells. Overall an excellent book and the beginning of a promising series.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    This book uses a real and sensational murder in the 1860s to illustrate the birth of not only modern detection practices but also the detective novel. I was instantly sucked in to Summescale's narrative. That which could have been a dry rendition of facts was actually quite engaging and interesting.
  • (2/5)
    I made it through Chapter 4 and then it was time for book club. I was incredibly disturbed by the actual murder, but then even more annoyed by how slow and convoluted this story seemed to be. I'm certain the author could have done something to make it lass confusing, right? Then on top of all that, I figured out who did it by the time they had the funeral for the poor little boy. I really didn't love it.
  • (3/5)
    I've been meaning to read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and doing a course on crime fiction finally pushed me in that direction. I'd been told it has both the history of 'real life' detection and something of the development of crime fiction -- which is true, it does, though it's somewhat difficult to follow, sometimes, under layers and layers of detail. Kate Summerscale's work is certainly thorough, and from all I can tell, well researched. However, the murder that she's supposed to be writing about is possibly given less space than all the people involved, mostly Mr Whicher (unsurprisingly) and the lives of everyone involved after the case. In some cases it's relevant to the solution and to the history, but sometimes it seems rather tangential. In any case, the sheer amount of detail and the dryness with which it's written put me off somewhat.