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

On a summer's morning in 1860, the Kent family awakes in their elegant Wiltshire home to a terrible discovery; their youngest son has been brutally murdered. When celebrated detective Jack Whicher is summoned from Scotland Yard he faces the unenviable task of identifying the killer - when the grieving family are the suspects.

The original Victorian whodunnit, the murder and its investigation provoked national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the locked doors of respectable homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing.

(Blurb of my physical copy)


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is an interesting account of the Road Hill House murder, a crime committed before the age of forensic and scientific methods, and the impact this crime had on authors from the Victorian time period. The development of crime fiction and the sensational novels were largely influenced by this sinister crime, because the danger apparently didn´t come from the outside, but more likely was committed by someone within the family.


What I liked most about this book was the depiction of the Victorian society, constantly craving for gossip, discrediting the police in the newspapers and voicing their opinions, coming up with theories of their own. This shows that people haven´t changed over the years and it doesn´t matter if they are using local gossip, the newspapers or Twitter to voice their opinion.


I have to say, though, that this book became repetitive after a while. The author especially overdid it with the constant mentioning of one author or another, who was influenced by the Road Hill House murder in this particular scene. Because of this there were chapters in the book that dragged on and it feels like a book that could have been shorter and it still would have worked.


It´s still a book I would recommend for any true crime afficionado and for everyone who is interested in Victorian society and their gossipmongering.