Friday, February 4, 2011

#4 The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

After reading Heathpie's excellent review of this book I decided that I needed to check it out.  Summerscale's book is definitely well-written and engrossing.  I was so caught up in the story that I missed my stop one morning on the way to school. 

The book tells the true story of the murder of the 3 year old Saville Kent and the mania that the English public experienced after the crime.  In 1860 England was caught up with the allure of detectives and one of the first and brightest, Mr. Whicher, was sent to solve the mystery.  The Kent's secrecy keeps them suspect and the middle-class felt threatened by the intrusion of the lower-class detectives prying nature. 

The family was full of jealousies stemming from the second marriage of Samuel Kent, Saville's father, to the former governess and the questionable relationship that they had before his first wife's death.  The children from the first marriage seemed to be given a lower status within the family and there are concerns about Saville's nursemaid as well. 

England went insane over this case.  It seems that everyone tried their hand in solving the murder and most became frustrated when Whicher settled on his main suspect.  The public moved from respecting detectives to seeing them as low-class connivers who wanted nothing more than to take down their social betters. 

This book was engaging and fun, if a little slow at the end, and does have a satisfying conclusion.  I highly recommend this book to others but I can't really expand much on that, it has all been said before. 

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