It is a summer's night in 1860. In an elegant detached Georgian house in the village of Road, Wiltshire, all is quiet. Behind shuttered windows, the Kent family lies sound asleep. At some point after midnight, a dog barks.
The family wakes the next morning to a horrific discovery: an unimaginably gruesome murder has taken place in their home. The household reverberates with shock, not least because the guilty party is surely still among them.
Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, the most celebrated detective of his day, reaches Road Hill House a fortnight later. He faces an unenviable task: to solve a case in which the grieving family are the suspects.
The murder provokes national hysteria. The thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing - arouses fear and a kind of excitement. But when Whicher reaches his shocking conclusion, there is uproar and bewilderment.
A true story that inspired a generation of writers, such as Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, this has all the hallmarks of the classic murder mystery: a body, a detective, a country house steeped in secrets. In The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Kate Summerscale untangles the facts behind this notorious case, bringing it back to vivid, extraordinary life.
A Victorian whodunnit that is absorbing from the start. The characters in the household where the unfortunate murder occurs are described in minute detail, as are their actions, feelings and daily lives. I had no idea this was a non-fiction novel based on a true mystery in 1860 and can only wonder how the author managed to intreweave such specific facts about the day to day lives of the characters, the facts concerning the surrounding areas and the subsequent details of the family in later life. This book is brilliant and taught me many things about personalities, policeing in the late 19th century and much much more. Once again fantastic!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Summerscale's absorbing story of a historical murder in 19th century rural Somerset proved a best seller when it was first published, and it translates well here to the spoken word. Her clear and easy prose supports with ease some high quality research, and Walters' intelligent reading, with its bell-clear diction, well-judged pace, variety of intonation and well-judged levels of expression (something not all actors are capable of when it comes to audiobooks) combines to make this an engaging "listen".
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A fascinating insight into the early machinations of detective work, long before forensics and DNA could swing a case..it really did come down to steadfast police work and gut instinct, with often the detective being ridiculed publicly. This is a sad story of an innocent child taken from his own bed and murdered which then resulted with many twists and turns and the secrets of the Victorian middle class household he belonged to, exposed for all to see. A true depiction of airing your dirty laundry for all to see...quite literally. Harriet Walter brought the book to life with her impeccable pronunciation and character portrayal. Her accents were spot on and her delivery perfect.
Very well written and an excellent, engaging performance.
I listened to the entire book in one sitting as I found the tale to be gripping.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Treat yourself to this one if you love true crime
Thorough research and a real talent for writing make this an amazing book to listen to
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book is commentary on the birth of detection in Victorian Britain, a study of crime and punishment at that time and a (semi) interesting look at the role of the national and local press at that time.
It is not a murder mystery. Totally lacking in any suspense or tension, it is completely one paced and offers little emotional stimulus for the listener/reader.
The only thing more dull than the narrative is the reading; hard to comprehend how a listener could get excited about a story when the teller sounds like she's reading a shopping list whilst watching paint dry.
If you love your 'whodunnits' then steer well clear. This is not for you (not me as it turns out...)
1 of 5 people found this review helpful
Nothing about this was disappointing read beautifully, story gripping from first to last and just the kind of book that will have you researching long after you have stopped listening
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Still not convinced (spoiler) did it, but excellently researched, written and performed. Recommend for lovers of traditional detective stories and/or true crime....
Only one issue, shame it is abridged.