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The Suspicions of Mr Whicher | [Kate Summerscale]

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family house in Road, Wiltshire. The next morning they wake to find that their youngest son has been the victim of an unimaginably gruesome murder. Even worse, the guilty party is surely one of their number - the house was bolted from the inside. As Jack Whicher, the most celebrated detective of his day, arrives to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria. This true story is the original Victorian whodunit.
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Publisher's Summary

It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family house in Road, Wiltshire. The next morning they wake to find that their youngest son has been the victim of an unimaginably gruesome murder. Even worse, the guilty party is surely one of their number - the house was bolted from the inside.

As Jack Whicher, the most celebrated detective of his day, arrives to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria. This true story is the original Victorian whodunit.

©2008 Kate Summerscale; (P)2009 BBC Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (88 )
5 star
 (23)
4 star
 (34)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (5)
Overall
3.6 (43 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (44 )
5 star
 (16)
4 star
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3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 08-02-12
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 08-02-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    764
    ratings
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    96
    73
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    Story
    "The game is afoot..."
    What made the experience of listening to The Suspicions of Mr Whicher the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed the parts of the book that focused on Mr. Whicher, his background, and the history of the London detectives the most. The crime itself, while the perfect "English country house" mystery in some aspects, was incredibly brutal. The evidence is treated evenhandedly, but there's no escaping that a child was the innocent victim at the center of the story.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The way that the solution was revealed... after I thought perhaps an answer was never discovered at all... was memorable, since this is not a fictional story. And sometimes life doesn't provide true answers to resolve readers' curiosity.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There was, but I don't want to reveal a spoiler. Suffice to say, I teared up a little when Mr. Whicher finds out the news.


    Any additional comments?

    Reccommend for listeners who enjoy historical fiction, true crime, or Victoriana. Little slow paced for listeners looking for "suspense" novel pacing.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Farmersville, TX, United States 12-06-09
    Mary Farmersville, TX, United States 12-06-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    6
    3
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    "Outstanding listen!"

    This was an outstanding book! The story is fascinating, and the author provides a good deal of history that is both pertinent and adds depth to the story. So many books are only half understood because readers of the modern day do not understand the customs and details of the time in which the book is set. This author has provided both a fascinating tale and enough historical detail so that the tale can be truly appreciated. I highly recommend this book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Prince George, BC, Canada 08-13-10
    Melinda Prince George, BC, Canada 08-13-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    12
    8
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    "Well written & narrated true Victorian crime story"

    I really enjoyed this one. The writing is excellent--well crafted prose, well researched story. The narration suits the book superbly. The story is a historical account of a child murder in a Victorian family and the detective, Mr. Whicher, who investigated the crime. It's not written like a novel; instead, the author uses primary sources such as newspaper articles, court reports/records, and personal journals to flesh out the story. I unreservedly recommend this to anyone who likes social history and is interested in the early days of Scotland Yard.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Bickers 10-08-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "Fascinating Look Into Victorian Crime"

    An admirable look into one of the most notorious crimes in Victorian England. Well thought out and well told, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher holds the interest of the listener. Christian Rodska is the perfect choice to narrate this work.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Fierro BROOKLYN, NY, United States 11-27-11
    Julia Fierro BROOKLYN, NY, United States 11-27-11 Member Since 2010

    Author of Cutting Teeth, a novel (St. Martin's Press, 2014)

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "A perfect listen."

    Riveting, eye-opening, a true crime beautifully written. This listen gave birth to my turn of the century true crime fascination.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Granite Falls, NC, USA 03-03-13
    Amy Granite Falls, NC, USA 03-03-13 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    139
    ratings
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    "I couldn't stop listening!"

    Oh, well done indeed.

    This is a highly compelling and insightfully crafted study of the 1860 murder of three-year-old Savile Kent, the highly publicized investigation led by Scotland Yard's Detective Inspector Whicher, and the subsequent resolution(s) of the case, which all but destroyed the detective while ultimately leaving the (allegedly) guilty party to live a long and productive life. This work is steeped, as it should be, in the intellectual history and cultural mores of the time. I especially applaud Summerscale for the thorough and thought-provoking way she ties the figure of Whicher to the emerging literary character of the detective, as seen in the works of Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among others.

    I found this to be thoroughly satisfying. The narration is excellent, and I couldn't stop listening. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Victorian era, the history of crime detection, and/or the real-life models behind the great literary detectives.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer PA 03-02-13
    Amazon Customer PA 03-02-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    21
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    "An insight into Victorian police procedure"

    This is not a story as much as it is a history or documentary of the 1860 murder of a young boy, Saville Kent, and the well known and respected Scotland Yard detective, Jonathan Whicher. I will confess, it gets a bit boring at times so if you are looking for something with action, you may want to pass this by. If you are looking for a history lesson of the British police, their words and phrases, and how investigations were handled, you'll enjoy this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Retired Walpole, NH USA 06-29-09
    Retired Walpole, NH USA 06-29-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    "Tiring"

    This is one of those audiobooks that I couldn't wait to be finished. I didn't relate well to the author's style of writing/story-telling. Events moved at a snails-pace. There were too many extraneous additions to the storyline, such as, "The so-and-so newspaper said this about that." Too often, I said, "Who cares?" So this is a thumbs down review, despite a good narrator.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott HOUSTON, TX, United States 12-23-13
    Scott HOUSTON, TX, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Tedious"
    What would have made The Suspicions of Mr Whicher better?

    Faster pace - author repeats the same things several times


    What could Kate Summerscale have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    more of a streamlined story - seemed as if


    What didn’t you like about Christian Rhodska’s performance?

    narrator was ok - story lagged...and lagged...and lagged...and lagged some more.


    Any additional comments?

    Hard book to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia United States 03-11-13
    Cynthia United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2011

    I'm a trucker of nearly 25 years. Listening to the radio is a matter of habit for me, but hearing the same songs over and over and OVER again became old. Audio books help those miles roll by faster!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Not Sherlock Holmes"
    Any additional comments?

    I did experience a good feel for the times when I listened to this audio book. However, the story itself was, I think, drawn out too much. As a result, I found myself fighting to stay focused on the story. I guess the story is OK, but I would not listen to it again.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Mark
    Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    5/24/09
    Overall
    "Compelling but a bit of a slog"

    This audio book has a good story - based on fact - but the style can leave you a bit lost at times. Stick with it though and it's all worth it

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Philip
    Piacenza, Italy
    5/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The story of the origins of detective novels"

    First off, this book won't be to everyone's taste. Some people will find the narrative style, historical side-steps and etymological trivia annoying. If, on the other hand, you are someone who enjoys narrative reconstructions from archive material and historical fact based retellings, such as by the likes of Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose, Prague Cemetary), you will enjoy this anatomy of a real-life early detective story. At the heart of the tale is a child's murder, but what 'unravels' is the secret life of 19th century upperclass society, the incompetence of local police and the central role of the detective (Mr. Whicher) who's exploits went on to inspire Dickens and Doyle to write some of the most famous detecive stories ever written. Some parts of the book needed to be listened to several times as I lost the thread of who's who and who did what, but as the story 'unfolds' and takes 'twists and turns', the various 'threads' start to come together and the very language of detective novels is 'revealed' in startling context. I must admit, as a linguist I found this aspect of most interest. A recommended read for those who like to know the story behind the narrative.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • N
    Cambridge, United Kingdom
    8/5/12
    Overall
    "Fascinating book, beautifully read"

    I love murder mysteries and history, so I loved this book, which was a really interesting combination of the two. A fascinating insight into how a real life murder was affected by 19th century English society, and the huge effect it has had on detective literature ever since. I also thought the reading by Christian Rhodska was great - very evocative and full of atmosphere. Recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Christina
    paisley, renfrewshire, United Kingdom
    10/19/09
    Overall
    "A grisly Victorian murder."

    An insightful book which delves into the machinations of the Victorian judicial system, and the introduction of the detective to the Metropolitan Police force, a distasteful figure much resented by the middle classes. In contrast, the general public follows the case with a morbid appetite, which is further fuelled by the popular sensational fiction of that era.

    The story is stodgy in places, quotations taken from fictional works eventually become intrusive rather than enlightening, but the skilled narrator, combined with the subject matter, keeps the listener engrossed throughout.




    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    Penzance, United Kingdom
    8/5/09
    Overall
    "Fascinating"

    This true story covers everything - links of the murder to popular fiction of the time, social conditions, history of the detective in the Metropolitan Police - and still manages to be utterly enthralling. It is the original (and true) country house murder. Beautifully read. A great listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Edwina
    Exeter, United Kingdom
    9/10/10
    Overall
    "Bored"

    I have read the book and I'm obviously missing something if the other reviews are to be believed, I've never been so bored by a book before. Yes, it's a marvellous snapshot of Victorian society and has obviously been well researched but I just found the whole thing turgid and I thought it could have been written in half the number of pages.
    I stuck with it to see what all the hype was about because this sort of thing is normally right up me street. The book has now gone to a charity shop, didn't even make it to my bookshelves for a 'might read it again someday.
    From the number of nominations/awards it appears I'm well in the minority though, but for me it just wasn't worth the effort.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Lesleyboyd
    scarborough, United Kingdom
    9/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "different"

    I really feel that this book was full of potential but just didn't quite live up to the mark. I enjoyed the references to past events but the actual story was a bit too thin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    UK
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rivetting book"
    Would you listen to The Suspicions of Mr Whicher again? Why?

    This book is bursting with information about the crime, the suspects, Mr Whicher himself, the Victorians and their obsession with grisly crimes, and the history of detective work - all of which is completely fascinating but probably needs at least two reads for all the details and characters to sink in.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher?

    There are so many, it is difficult to pick out just one - all the fascinating little facts about detective work, how the language of detective work evolved (leads, clues, etc) and how the detectives developed their skills on the job.
    It is fascinating that Charles Dickens commented on the case, and that various literary detectives were based on Jack Whicher.


    What does Christian Rhodska bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    This book is beautifully read, with all the accents, which brings the characters to life. You development an emotional attachment to the characters, which might be more difficult to do if you were just reading the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Beautifully read and beautifully written, this is the story of the murder of a small boy and the mystery surrounding the case. But it is not just a mystery in the past, it is still very much a mystery today, and that is what makes this book so fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Lacenas, France
    6/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for us"

    Given the sample( and the tv play) we expected a drama but got an historical , factual account of the case, the police and much more -in fact an information overload.
    We sat listening in vain for the story to start!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • gordon
    RADLETT, United Kingdom
    3/2/13
    Overall
    "Totally Engaging"

    A thorough and well researched book. I really enjoyed the way Summerscale referenced novelists like Dickens. Definitely engaging and interesting. Well narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 18 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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