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

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

ISBN13: 9780802715357
ISBN10: 0802715354
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

At once a mystery and a history of early mystery novels. The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

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, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, 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 Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

Review:

"Summerscale (The Queen of Whale Cay) delivers a mesmerizing portrait of one of England's first detectives and the gruesome murder investigation that nearly destroyed him. In 1860, three-year-old Saville Kent was found murdered in the outdoor privy of his family's country estate. Local police scrambled for clues, but to no avail. Scotland Yard Det.-Insp. Jonathan 'Jack' Whicher was called in and immediately suspected the unthinkable: someone in the Kent family killed Saville. Theories abounded as everyone from the nursemaid to Saville's father became a suspect. Whicher tirelessly pursued every lead and became convinced that Constance Kent, Saville's teenage half-sister, was the murderer, but with little evidence and no confession, the case went cold and Whicher returned to London, a broken man. Five years later, the killer came forward with a shocking account of the crime, leading to a sensational trial. Whicher is a fascinating hero, and readers will delight in following every lurid twist and turn in his investigation." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A bang-up sleuthing adventure." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A nonfiction history that moves with all the twists of a mystery novel...offers layers of surprises....[O]ne eloquent doozy of a true-crime thriller. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is not just a dark, vicious true-crime story; it is the story of the birth of forensic science, founded on the new and disturbing idea that innocent, insignificant domestic details can reveal unspeakable horrors to those who know how to read them." Lev Grossman, Time Magazine

Review:

"Summerscale organizes the book like a period novel, with a denouement that suggests that full justice was never done. Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City) fans will be enthralled." Library Journal

Review:

"[T]old and interwoven with admirable skill and definition." Bookpage

Review:

"Summerscale has produced not only a dazzling non-fiction thriller, but also an acute work of literary and social history." The Daily Express

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

The national bestseller, now in paperback.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. T he 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. I nspector Jonathan Whichers real legacy, however, lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, all-knowing and all-seeing detective that we know and love today…from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collinss The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammetts Sam Spade. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher reads like the best of Victorian thrillers, and has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize in London.

About the Author

Kate Summerscale is the former literary editor for the Daily Telegraph and author of The Queen of Whale Cay, which won the Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Summerscale lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Karl L Stenger, April 12, 2008 (view all comments by Karl L Stenger)
This page-turner proves that real life can be more suspenseful and gripping than fiction. Centering around one of the most infamous murders of the Victorian era, the book traces the career of Jonathan Whicher, one of the first and best known detectives in England. When three-year-old Saville Kent is viciously murdered, Detective-Inspector Whicher is dispatched by Scotland Yard to investigate. When his investigation, which concentrates on the boy's family and their servants, fails to procure a conviction, his promising career is derailed. The book not only turns readers into armchair detectives, it also provides a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of Victorian propriety and shows the effect the case had on the development of the detective in the novels of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(12 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802715357
Subtitle:
A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
Author:
Summerscale, Kate
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Subject:
Expeditions & Discoveries
Subject:
General
Subject:
HIS051000
Subject:
Murder - General
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective Fiction
Subject:
History
Subject:
Murder
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Detectives -- England -- London.
Subject:
Whicher, Jonathan
Subject:
Expeditions.
Subject:
Discoveries
Subject:
General History
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
April 15, 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2-8p. photographic inserts
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Crime » General
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » World History » England » General

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Walker & Company - English 9780802715357 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

At once a mystery and a history of early mystery novels. The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Summerscale (The Queen of Whale Cay) delivers a mesmerizing portrait of one of England's first detectives and the gruesome murder investigation that nearly destroyed him. In 1860, three-year-old Saville Kent was found murdered in the outdoor privy of his family's country estate. Local police scrambled for clues, but to no avail. Scotland Yard Det.-Insp. Jonathan 'Jack' Whicher was called in and immediately suspected the unthinkable: someone in the Kent family killed Saville. Theories abounded as everyone from the nursemaid to Saville's father became a suspect. Whicher tirelessly pursued every lead and became convinced that Constance Kent, Saville's teenage half-sister, was the murderer, but with little evidence and no confession, the case went cold and Whicher returned to London, a broken man. Five years later, the killer came forward with a shocking account of the crime, leading to a sensational trial. Whicher is a fascinating hero, and readers will delight in following every lurid twist and turn in his investigation." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A bang-up sleuthing adventure."
"Review" by , "A nonfiction history that moves with all the twists of a mystery novel...offers layers of surprises....[O]ne eloquent doozy of a true-crime thriller. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is not just a dark, vicious true-crime story; it is the story of the birth of forensic science, founded on the new and disturbing idea that innocent, insignificant domestic details can reveal unspeakable horrors to those who know how to read them."
"Review" by , "Summerscale organizes the book like a period novel, with a denouement that suggests that full justice was never done. Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City) fans will be enthralled."
"Review" by , "[T]old and interwoven with admirable skill and definition."
"Review" by , "Summerscale has produced not only a dazzling non-fiction thriller, but also an acute work of literary and social history."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by ,
The national bestseller, now in paperback.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. T he 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. I nspector Jonathan Whichers real legacy, however, lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, all-knowing and all-seeing detective that we know and love today…from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collinss The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammetts Sam Spade. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher reads like the best of Victorian thrillers, and has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize in London.

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