Book Review: The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

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

Kate Summerscale

Walker & Company

384 pages

Crime detecting is in its infancy, and Jack Whicher is one of the detective inspectors for Scotland’s Yard.  Somewhat of a rogue, he is in his prime and has a real knack for uncovering even the smallest clues and details.  Then a crime takes place that changes the course of his career forever.

Road Hill House is the estate of the Kent family.  Mr Kent is a factory inspector with a new, younger (pregnant) wife.  They have two young children, as well as Mr Kent’s four older children from his first marriage, who live in the home as well.  Add to that numerous servants and you have quite a full house.

I somehow went into this book not realizing who was going to be slain, so I will keep that a secret, despite the fact that it happens early on and is pretty easy to deduce before it happens.  The house had obviously not been broken into, so it becomes evident that someone in the home had committed the crime.  The local police and townspeople have one theory as to who is the killer, and then Mr Whicher is called in.  After surveying the scene and taking statements from members of the household, he becomes confident that he has discovered the murderer.  Unfortunately, no one is buying his theory, and eventually he is ostracized for his determination.  His career never recovers, and the glory days he once knew are over.

I love books like this–fictionalized true crime.  Add the fact that it is a Victorian era crime and you have me completely hooked.  I loved this book.  I wasn’t sure what to believe, and Whicher didn’t have me sold.  Crime solving is so different these days, with modern technology and forensics, so the case Whicher was building didn’t seem strong enough.  Obviously back then, you were going more on circumstantial evidence, as that is all there was.  Possibly I just didn’t want to believe that his suspect could be guilty either–if you’ve read the book, I think you know what I mean.  Who could do such a thing?

I wish there were more books out there like The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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I purchased this book for my kindle.

3 Responses

  1. I keep seeing this, and debating whether or not to read it! You sure make it sound intriguing!

  2. I’ve got this on my shelf – looks like I’m in for a treat!

  3. Yes! Loved this one as much as you did. You’ve read Devil and the White City by Erik Larson, right? If not, you must.

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