Thursday, March 13, 2008

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
Kate Summerscale
Walker, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780802715357

In the summer of 1860, someone slashed the throat of three-year-old Saville Kent and dumped the child into an outdoor privy on his family's estate. The news traveled throughout England horrifying everyone that a child could be brutally murdered like this. Pressure mounted on the local police to solve the case, but no clues surfaced. Because of the publicity Scotland Yard sends its top sleuth Detective Inspector Jonathan "Jack" Whicher to investigate. He quickly assumes a member of Savile’s family or a part of the Kent housekeeping staff killed the lad. He specifically believed that Saville’s teenage half-sister Constance killed the boy, but failed to find solid proof of his assertion. Despondent Whicher went back to London as a different man than the confident person who left a few months earlier to detect the killer. Five years later, the culprit confessed.

This is a great biographical fiction of an interesting real life mid nineteenth century detective working a shocking homicide case that left him doubting his skills. Fascinatingly Jack’s theory that the victim knew his killer as the culprit was probably related shocked England as unbelievable; today that is a prime source for suspects. Readers will appreciate the true investigation of “A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective” who investigated the heinous crime.

Harriet Klausner

1 comment:

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