The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

Front Cover
Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jun 5, 2010 - Social Science - 400 pages
The New York Times bestselling account of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable--that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today . . . from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LibraryCin -

3.75 stars In 1860, in a country house in England, a little boy was taken from his bedroom and murdered in the night. It appeared that it must have been someone already inside the house who did it. It ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thornton37814 -

Four-year-old Saville Kent is murdered in his own home. Although originally placed in the hands of local police, the matter is turned over to Jack Whicher who almost immediately suspects daughter ... Read full review


Family Tree
List of Characters
A Note on Money
To See What We Have Got to
The Horror and Amazement
To Look at a Star by Glances
What Games Goes
A General Putting of This and That Together by the Wrong
Women Hold Your Tongues
Like a Crave

Shall Not God Search This Out?
A Man of Mystery
Every Clue Seems Cut
Something in Her Dark Cheek
All Tight Shut
Better She Be
My Love Turned
FairyLands of Fact
List of Illustrations

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Kate Summerscale is a journalist and international bestselling author. Her first book, The Queen of Whale Cay, won the Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread (now Costa) biography prize. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, a New York Times bestseller, won the Samuel Johnson prize, the British Book Awards for both Popular Non-Fiction and Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime in the US. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace was a Sunday Times bestseller, and The Wicked Boy won the 2017 Mystery Writers of America Edgar award for Best Fact Crime.

Bibliographic information