"Kate Summerscale's careful reconstruction of the mysterious events at Road…"
Kate Summerscale's careful reconstruction of the mysterious events at Road Hill House is a tour de force in research and period detail.
She uses minute detail to re-examine this extraordinarily famous and controversial case, and somehow manages to make the characters of the protagonists - and in particular Jack Whicher - shine through what could have been a dry dusty account of a long-forgotten murder.
Structured like a classic detective story, we learn the circumstances of the crime, follow the (incredibly frustrating) investigation carried out by first local police, and then by Scotland Yard. Finally Summerscale lays out her own theories in the final pages and we learn the probable identity of the murderer.
This book is genuinely shocking in many ways, not least because of the heart-wrenching depravity of the crime (although Summerscale is never lurid or prurient in her descriptions), but also because of the infuriating ineptitude and blindness of the local police, effectively allowing a locally prominent family to run the investigation according to their own prejudices.
Summerscale draws a fascinating portrait of class-riven Victorian society and the birth of investigative police work, and manages to spin a cracking yarn at the same time.Read moreLess
"This was a very good book, a really interesting mix…"
This was a very good book, a really interesting mix of a particular story, social history and reflections on the origins of the detective story. The author was really careful not to go beyond her research or to speculate without evidence about the motives or feelings of the various protagonists. However, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I might. That may just have been a personal reaction in that my daughter is the same age as the child who is killed. But I think it went beyond that - the child victim was almost missing from the story. And perhaps that's inevitable, as what happened hinged around the character of the older people and not the child himself, but somehow it made me feel uneasy. The author herself reflects on the absence of the child in the story towards the end. Maybe unease is the right reaction though, to a real life story of murder, rather than a fictional one. I would recommend this book.Read moreLess
"I bought this after reading some comments about it MN.…"
I bought this after reading some comments about it MN. it is a great book, a true story about the murder of a child in the 1800's. The setting is a large family home in Wiltshire, the list of suspects: the fmaily and staff, and a gruesome murder.Jack Whitcher is one of the newly formed detectives in the Metropolitan Police. He goes to the house to investigate. It shows how Victorian society had a tendecncy to close ranks, especially in the upper classes, as Det.Whicher faces an uphill battle to get to the truth.
The writing was good, although I personally thought the ending, where we are told what happens to the remaining family members drags on a bit, it could have been summed up in fewer chapters. On the wholethough a good book, would recommend it, even to those who don't like crime books.Read moreLess
"More than an anatomy of a terrible crime (the murder…"
More than an anatomy of a terrible crime (the murder of a young child), this book combines historical research with a compelling narrative. As well as the questions about guilt and innocence that are explored, it provides an account of the emergence of the detective figure and an examination of the fractures which threaten the domestic and social world of the wealthy nineteenth century family. A strange and terrible story.Read moreLess