The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
In 1860 in England, a middle-class family’s three-year-old son disappears. After a brief search, he is found dead in an outdoor privy with his throat savagely cut. It electrifies the public’s curiosity as it becomes the Victorian equivalent of the O.J. Simpson murder case. It quickly becomes apparent that the murder was committed by one of the family or servants in the household. Without important evidence, the speculations run rampant. Finally, the local law enforcement calls in Scotland Yard’s finest detective, Jack Whicher. He quickly identifies his prime suspect, but his evidence is only circumstantial. The prevailing public opinion is against him, and he returns to London with the case unsolved and his reputation tarnished. Years later, a confession exonerates him.
Summerscale has written a compelling story of this gruesome murder and Victorian society’s fascination with detectives. Overall the book is an excellent example of a subject that continues to fascinate many people today. If you are into mysteries, fictional or not, this is a must read.