The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

I just finished reading The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I discovered this engaging book at Sandy’s blog, You’ve Gotta Read This, and I am glad I did, since I really enjoyed it!

In the year of 1860, three-year-old Saville Kent was found brutally murdered in the outdoor privy of his family’s country estate. Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Jonathan Jack Whicher was called in to lead the investigation. He was one of England’s first detectives and Scotland Yard’s best man, thus everyone hoped he could solve the mystery behind the Road Hill murder. As soon as he began the investigation, Whicher was convinced that someone within the family must be responsible for the crime. However, the public was shocked by his assumption; the idea that such things would happen in respectable middle-class homes terrified everyone.

Nevertheless, people were fascinated by the Road Hill case; it aroused both fear and excitement across England and everyone seemed to know who the murderer was. Everyone had a theory and a suspect; some believed that the father and the nursemaid had committed the crime, while others believed that one of the siblings must be the murderer. There were also people who believed that the murderer could not be a family member.

Whicher became convinced that Constance Kent, Saville’s half-sister, was the murderer. He believed that she was jealous of her little half-brother because he was everybody’s favorite, so she decided to murder him. However, Whicher had little evidence and Constance did not confess, so the case went cold.  The Road Hill case nearly destroyed his career and Whicher retired a few years later. In his later years, he worked as a private detective; eventually, he was vindicated and he appeared in another sensational case.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is an engaging non-fiction book as it deals with a fascinating and true murder case. The book is full of hidden motives, false accusations and dark family secrets and the reader will be eager to find out the truth behind the murder at Road Hill House. In addition, the reader will learn about the history and the origins of detective fiction (you’ll find out that Mr. Whicher inspired characters in fiction such as Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone).

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is an absorbing, well-researched book full of historical details and it draws a fascinating portrait of Victorian families and their exciting lives. I recommend this book to everyone who loves detective stories and to everyone who wants to find out more about the history of detective fiction!

I would like to thank Michelle Blankenship from Bloomsbury – Walker & Co. for sending me a copy of this thrilling book!



12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ceri
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 15:14:12

    Great review Andreea. I love Victorian-age books.

    BTW, I have an award for you here:



  2. Sandy
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 16:06:18

    This book was right in your favorite era, and I’m so glad you liked it! I struggled with it just a bit, as there were a multitude of details and was very dense. That being said, isn’t it amazing to read about a murder mystery that inspired some of the best novels of that time? Great review!


  3. Milka
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 16:13:10

    Thank you! If you like Emma I bet you would love The Importance of Being Emma. 🙂

    Great review btw, this book sounds interesting.


  4. vivienne
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 18:25:59

    This is one book I have had since last Christmas and still not read. I keep hearing how good it is and I never seem to find time to read it. I doubt I will get to it before Christmas as I have 28 books I need to read to finish my challenges.


  5. Baba
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 20:03:06

    This book is on my wishlist. I also might have read about it on Sandy’s blog. It sounds like a great read and I can’t wait until I can get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the review.


  6. Melody
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 00:52:00

    You can’t go wrong with Sandy’s recommendations! I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Of course this book will go to my wishlist. 😉


  7. Molly
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 01:48:00

    I just picked up this book from the library today and am hoping to find time to start reading it this weekend.

    Great review!


  8. Andreea
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 14:52:54

    Ceri: Thank you so much for the award! That’s so nice of you!

    Sandy: Yes, it’s great to learn about the history of detective fiction! I love the Victorian Era and I love detective stories, so this book was perfect for me!

    Milka: Thanks! Yes, it’s an engaging book!

    Vivienne: I hope you get the chance to read it in the future!

    Baba: I’m glad to hear that this book is on your wishlist. I hope you’ll read it in the future!

    Melody: There are so many good books out there and you just want to have them all:) My wishlist is always expanding!

    Molly: I hope you’ll enjoy this great book!


  9. savidgereads
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 21:15:48

    This is a fantastic book am so pleased that you liked it. I will be revisiting it in my Sensation Season as it was the murder that inspired so many of the great sensation novels. Saying that I really must be getting back to Wilkie Collins.


  10. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
    Sep 12, 2009 @ 14:02:23

    I loved this book! I’m pleased to discover that you enjoyed it.

    I am very impressed that you managed to get a publisher to send you this book. Your blogging skills continue to amaze me! It took me months before I got my first one and you manage it in just a few weeks – congratulations!


  11. Nymeth
    Sep 13, 2009 @ 11:43:35

    As I was telling Sandy, I think I’ll read The Moonstone first (and by first I mean soon!), but I’d definitely like to read this sometime. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!


  12. ds
    Sep 13, 2009 @ 16:57:46

    I just discovered this book on the College Student’s shelf. After Sandy’s great review and now yours, I guess I have no excuse. But I really do need to read Willkie Collins first. Thank you for this!


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