The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House

by Kate Summerscale | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780747596486 Global Overview for this book
Registered by MarthaK-H of Lewisham, Greater London United Kingdom on 2/19/2009
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
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16 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by MarthaK-H from Lewisham, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, February 19, 2009
I saw the Richard & Judy review of this book & it looked really interesting. Hope to read soon.

Amazon Product Description:

It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family's elegant house in Road, Wiltshire. The next morning, however, 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 at Road to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria at 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.This true story has all the hallmarks of a classic gripping murder mystery. A body, a detective, a country house steeped in secrets and a whole family of suspects - it is the original Victorian whodunnit.

About the Author
Kate Summerscale is the author of the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, which won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award. She has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London.

Journal Entry 2 by MarthaK-H from Lewisham, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, March 07, 2009
I picked this one up knowing full well that it was based upon the true story of a murder in Victorian London but what I had failed to grasp was that it would be written as an extended non-fiction essay! I just assumed that the tale would be told as a story so was a bit surprised when I started reading.

I'm afraid that I do prefer a novel of good fiction, whether this is based upon true events or not (if you know what I'm getting at!!) so it seemed to take me longer to get through this one. After all that though I did like finding out about the events, the mystery surrounding the case and the fact that Sherlock Holmes was based upon Whitcher, the real life detective.

Its an interesting read & I'll have to wait and see what others make of it.

Journal Entry 3 by MarthaK-H from Lewisham, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, March 28, 2009
Have sent this book out as a ray. PM me if you are interested, including details of where you are and your posting preferences.

List so far:

CaterinaAnna, UK - anywhere
Meddyg, UK - anywhere
Scotsbookie, UK - Europe
Wilksie, UK - anywhere
Rubybluelady, UK - anywhereAliceF, UK - anywhere
Griete, Switzerland - Europe
Doo-oalee, UK - anywhere

Tanamo, UK - anywhere
Neuilly, US - US/Canada

Bookray now finished and happy to see the book is continuing on its travels! :-)

Journal Entry 4 by MarthaK-H from Lewisham, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 31, 2009
And we're off!! Posted today to CaterinaAnna. Hope you enjoy it :0)

Journal Entry 5 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Friday, April 03, 2009
Arrived safely in Coventry and started already, thank you MarthaK-H. However I am likely to have to take a break in the middle of it, so it will be a fortnight or so before I get round to writing a review and sending it on.

Journal Entry 6 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This was interesting and easy to read. The author did try to focus on the people involved, but was stymied by the lack of information available about some of them - not least Whicher himself - and so the events took centre stage. Detectives and detective fiction are so much part of our culture that it is difficult to place oneself in the mileu described by Summerscale where the procedures were unfamiliar and unwelcome. While she didn't take me to that place - as fictionalising the account might have done - she did at least make the opinions and fears of the time clear. Not sure it deserves the hype, but a good read none the less.

Journal Entry 7 by Caterinaanna at Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (4/27/2009 UTC) at Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom



meddyg was unable to make the cardiff meet-up this weekend, so this finally went off to him in the post last night.

Journal Entry 8 by meddyg on Saturday, May 02, 2009
Recieved from in the post from CaterinaAnna, many thanks. Looks fascinating.

"Come Watson, the games afoot" - wrong detective, this book is an account of a real life murder. Will be passed onto Scotsbookie when finished. I'll amend this entry then.

Have PM'd Scotsbookie for address (04/05/09)

Journal Entry 9 by meddyg on Monday, May 04, 2009
The Victorians liked nothing better than an "Orrible Murder" which could be read with gruesome relish in the newspapers of the day over the breakfast table. (It's certainly not like that now, bewhiskerered Majors and cranky Colonels have been long replaced by the modern professional policeman).

The Office of Constable is an old one, while the science of detecting started in the mid Victorian era, comprising of a small force of which the redoubtable Jack Whicher is one. Sent to Wiltshire to investigate a brutal killing of a small boy, the authoress builds a comprehensive picture of the events culminating in the revealing of the murderer in the closing chapters of the book, as is traditional.

I enjoyed the book which is well written and meticulously researched, although it perhaps should be made a bit clearer that it is a narratve account, not a work of fiction. The case set the trend for fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes to be unmarried, slightly solitary individuals.

Its a good read, and easy, I finished it in just over a day.

I would recommend it to anybody interested in serious crime and Victorian times.


Journal Entry 10 by meddyg on Saturday, September 12, 2009
Ceacking good story abut the early days of Scotland Yard's recently formed CID,

The body of a boy is found in mysterious circumstances. and in best detective fiction, the immeduaqte family is implicated,

The redoubtable Inspector Whicher is sent down from London to investigate,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Journal Entry 11 by meddyg on Thursday, September 17, 2009
Controlled release to Scotsbookie by post.

Journal Entry 12 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thank you! This is now #2 on mount TBR.

Journal Entry 13 by wilksie from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Arrived this morning, thankyou very much Scotsbookie.
I have a couple of books to finish but will read this one as soon as possible :-)

Journal Entry 14 by wilksie from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, April 02, 2010
This book was an incredibly interesting, non-fiction account of the murder at Road Hill House in 1860. I loved the details, the references to other detective novels of the time and the facts about the early police force. I was completely engrossed, and not just because my great great grandfather was a police constable at this time. After so much fascinating detail, I found the afterword particularly poignant, as we are reminded that Saville was a little boy who had lived. Yes, I had forgotten about him too.

Sending on to Rubybluelady as soon as I get an address.

Journal Entry 15 by wilksie from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Monday, April 12, 2010
Posted to Rubybluelady this morning.

Journal Entry 16 by RubyBlueLady from Avebury, Wiltshire United Kingdom on Saturday, April 17, 2010
This has arrived safely, but as luck would have it, with another bookray that I opened first, so I'll read this as soon as I've finished the other one.

Journal Entry 17 by RubyBlueLady from Avebury, Wiltshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 04, 2010
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Or The Murder at Road Hill House The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was 'book heaven' for me, I love to read about the 1800s generally, and particularly interested the early days of detection, of policing.

This is a fascinating factual book exploring in detail a murder in Wiltshire (where I happen to live!) in 1860. It's a treasure trove for anyone interested in the origin of words like 'sleuth' and 'red herring', of social attitudes of the time, and even if you aren't, there's the suspense of waiting to find out who the perpetrator was.

A gripping, suspenseful and informative read, I loved it!

Will post to AliceF as soon as I have the address.

View all my reviews >>

Journal Entry 18 by AliceF from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Arrived in the post today: thanks!

Journal Entry 19 by AliceF at Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, July 24, 2010
I've kept this way too long... sorry! The reason, essentially, is that the story is too close to home for me: my son is the same age as the victim in this story; otherwise, I'm sure I would have found it fascinating!

Have contacted the next reader for postage details.

Journal Entry 20 by Doo-oalee at Bride, Bride Isle of Man on Friday, September 17, 2010
I just got this book in the post and received it yesterday afternoon. I'll try and read it fast and keep it moving. Hope to give you an update soon. Thanks AliceF and MarthaK-H!

Journal Entry 21 by Doo-oalee at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, February 10, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (2/9/2011 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom


Sorry for taking so long to anything with this, everyone. In the event I have not read more than a section of it. I'll just read it again sometime I suppose. Anyway I have now sent this to Tanamo and it should be on its way.

Journal Entry 22 by wingTanamowing at Hinckley, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Friday, February 11, 2011
Safely received and looks good. Hope to read it soon.

Journal Entry 23 by wingAnonymousFinderwing at Hinckley, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 03, 2011
Fascinating account of a child murder in Victorian days and the seething emotions lurking beneath the surface of the strait-laced respectability of those times. I have no doubt that Mr Whicher got it right regarding the perpetrators and that he was treated rather unjustly. Ms Summerscale has written a well researched and evocative book.

I will now pm Neuilly so I can get an address to send this book on its travels again.

Journal Entry 24 by wingTanamowing at Hinckley, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Monday, April 04, 2011
No idea why my last JE came up as AF but I now have Neuilly's address so am off to the PO to get this book on its way.

Journal Entry 25 by wingTanamowing at Brooklyn, New York USA on Monday, April 04, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (4/4/2011 UTC) at Brooklyn, New York USA


Mailed to Neuilly.

Journal Entry 26 by Neuilly at Brooklyn, New York USA on Sunday, April 24, 2011
I received this in the mail yesterday!! I'm very excited to get a chance to read it. I'm just finishing up a book now but should get to it soon! It looks good :)

Journal Entry 27 by Neuilly at Brooklyn, New York USA on Saturday, May 07, 2011
I have finished! What I really loved about this book was the amount of research that went into it. I really got a feel for the time period and the beginning of the detective! On the flip side, I felt like to an extent, the crime itself got a bit buried. The fact that the "solution" is still debatable I'm sure adds to that feeling. Murders can't always have a clear-cut story. But I loved the look at the different possibilities, the different emotions, and how the family and the detective were viewed in that era - and how that changed.

It reminded me of a play called "Blood Relations" which looks back on the case of Lizzie Borden. It deals with facts, but looks at emotions and the feelings of a different young woman who was trapped by her family situation. Again, there's a possible conclusion but it's left open as well.

As I seem to be last on the list I will look for someone who has it on their wishlist!

Journal Entry 28 by wingMmeClintonwing at South Berwick, Maine USA on Thursday, July 21, 2011
Neuilly has sent this lovely book up to Maine knowing I will enjoy it and let it continue its travels. I hope to get to it before the end of the summer, but time seems to be running out on me with all I must read first! Thanks as ever and forever, petite Neuilly de mon coeur!

Journal Entry 29 by wingMmeClintonwing at South Berwick, Maine USA on Monday, September 26, 2011
I did really enjoy reading this non-fiction book although it was just a bit slow in the way it unfolded. What it succeeded in doing was create the atmosphere of the the Victorian times, and it is the first time I have really understood how the modern idea of a detective came into being. It is always interesting how we want to vilify people who choose to go into "protection of society" roles without really seeing them as individuals. It was also interesting to note how the upper strata of society are often off limits to the kinds of invasive investigations into crimes which society in general often seeks against those of less fortunate circumstances. The characters are well portrayed, both Mr. Whicher and the probable murderess (sheltering her accomplice) Constance Kent. Ah, the family dynamics that prevent people from owning up to the evil close at hand....

Journal Entry 30 by wingMmeClintonwing at South Berwick, Maine USA on Thursday, October 13, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (10/13/2011 UTC) at South Berwick, Maine USA


mailing off to ekgv414 in Pennsylvaniz, RABCK.... enjoy!

Journal Entry 31 by ekgv414 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA on Monday, October 17, 2011
Received today as a RABCK from MmeClinton - thanks so much! I'm finishing up a book right now, so I'll start this one next and try to move it along soon.

Journal Entry 32 by ekgv414 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA on Monday, November 21, 2011
I really enjoyed this one. Some parts were a bit dry and I found myself slogging through, but other parts were real page-turners that I didn't want to put down. I don't want to say too much more specifically because even though this is non-fiction and the details are probably out there and easily findable, it feels "spoilery." Is that silly?

In any case, thanks again to MmeClinton for the RABCK from my wishlist. I'm paying that forward and sending this to MaryZee in Maryland from HER wishlist.

Journal Entry 33 by wingmaryzeewing at Taneytown, Maryland USA on Saturday, November 26, 2011
Thanks so much for sending this book to me, Ekgv414! It arrived safely yesterday, and I'm pleased to see it's so well-travelled.

This is one of those books, that when I originally heard of it here on BC, I didn't think I'd be much interested in it because it was about true crime, which I don't normally read (although I did read some, years ago). But I do enjoy reading about history, and I kept hearing from numerous people on BC what a good book it is. Since I very much enjoyed The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen (about a serial killer operating during the 19th century in Chicago), and I enjoy mysteries including some police procedurals, I'm thinking I may enjoy a tale about the founding of Scotland Yard and the development of investigatory methods. I hope to enjoy this one early next year.

Journal Entry 34 by wingmaryzeewing at Taneytown, Maryland USA on Monday, July 16, 2012
I enjoyed this book; not a great read to me, not quite very good, but definitely an interesting and memorable read. It was interesting to read about how detective fiction developed about the same time, thru all the publicity coverage of this crime. I kind of wanted more about the investagatory processes, but I guess it was still early in the development of them. Interesting to note how circumstantial evidence was tied together to "solve" the crime, whereas nowadays that's not a good proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I was glad the follow-up of the case was included; what happened to those involved after the case was closed, and how she later confessed. And the follow-up of the rest of their lives. Definitely a memorable book, and the added bonus of all the literary references to criminal trials and investigations of the time.

Thanks to all who went before in sharing this book. This is truly a well-traveled book, and I hope to continue its travels within the BC community. I'll be taking it along to a meet next weekend, to find its next reader.

Journal Entry 35 by wingmaryzeewing at Birdie's Cafe - 233 E. Main St. in Westminster, Maryland USA on Saturday, July 21, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (7/21/2012 UTC) at Birdie's Cafe - 233 E. Main St. in Westminster, Maryland USA


This will be taken to our meet today; if no one takes it home, it will be left on the bookshelf in the back room. Enjoy!

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Journal Entry 36 by wingMelydiawing at -- Geocaches, Virginia USA on Saturday, July 21, 2012
Picked this up at today's meetup at Birdie's in Westminster, Maryland. I see it already has quite a lengthy history. I hope to read it soon and continue it on its journey.

Journal Entry 37 by wingMelydiawing at -- Geocaches, Virginia USA on Friday, September 07, 2012
In 1860, a child was murdered in a grisly fashion and the case more or less inspired all of detective fiction. Mr. Whicher was the detective on the case, whose unorthodox and - by Victorian standards - extremely intrusive investigative style ruffled many feathers and caused a nationwide sensation. The details and public reactions were fascinating, as were the quotes from various detective novels of the day, most of which were clearly based on Mr. Whicher and this case. Not something I normally would have picked up, not being a mystery or true crime buff, but this was truly interesting. Recommended.

Journal Entry 38 by wingfurballwing at Alexandria, Virginia USA on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Just noticed that I haven't journaled this book. Oops. Picked it up at the BC-inDC get-together on October 20th.

Journal Entry 39 by wingfurballwing at Alexandria, Virginia USA on Thursday, May 12, 2016
It's time for the annual clearing of the half-read books, where I pull everything that has had a bookmark in it for at least a month, often many months. It doesn't mean that the book is bad. It's just that the book couldn't hold my interest enough to compete with other books that came along. Time to let this one go. Perhaps you will like it more.

Released 4 yrs ago (5/21/2016 UTC) at Gaithersburg City Hall Concert Pavilion And Grounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland USA


Bringing to the Gaithersburg Book Festival. May it travel far and gather many journal entries.

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