Throwback Thursday: The Suspicions of Mr Witcher by Kate Summerscale

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favourite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

My pick for this week is The Suspicions of Mr. Witcher by Kate Summerscale which I remember really enjoying when I read it.

9780747596486What I thought:

What a fascinating book this was. I expected to read about the true story of one of the most shocking crimes in 19th century England but I hadn’t bargained for also getting a fantastically written and hugely interesting social commentary of Victorian times and attitudes and behaviours with regards to the emergence of Police Detectives in this country.

Mr. Whicher, the Detective called into this particular case, was one of the first ever Scotland Yard Detectives which came with its own share of suspicion and mistrust. The case in question was the murder of a 3-year-old boy, one of the several children of a well-to-do family in a country house in Wiltshire. In June 1860, the young boy was found to be missing from his cot in the morning and later that day his body was discovered (with his throat slit and a stab wound to his chest) down the servant’s toilet outside in the grounds. It soon became apparent that the perpetrator was one of the people inside the house on that night (which consisted of the boys family, the nursemaid, and housemaid). Whicher was called in to find out which one of the family murdered the three-year-old while the whole of England became obsessed with the drama, writing into the newspapers in their thousands offering their opinion on who committed the crime.

While I found the unravelling of this story fascinating in itself, I was also delighted to see so many references to some great Victorian authors including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. 1860 was also the year that the first victorian “sensational” novel was published and this appeared to feed the frenzy of the public. This particular case has also been reported to have been the basis for subsequent rather famous novels such as Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood , Collins’ The Moonstone and Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret all of which contain themes from this particular story. Dickens (who was also an aquaintance of Mr Whicher) even wrote letters to Collins offering his theory on what took place that night.

This book is completely non-ficiton to point that only recorded conversations and facts are included (which seems to be the reason there are alot of negative reviews about it – perhaps it seemed too dry for some). And while this is more of a why-dunnit than a who-dunnit , there are still a few surprises along the way that caught me off-guard.

Verdict:

I thoroughtly enjoyed this book; infact I could barely put it down. Summerscale stuck to the facts without trying to sensationalise the story any more than it already was by putting words in peoples mouths and the result was a hugely enjoyable novel about a shocking crime and its repercussions in Victorian society. Highly recommended.

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Have you read this? Do you like crime non-fiction and could you recommend any others?

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The Thrill Week Blog Hop

Thrill Week is here! Mwahahahahahaaaa!!!

It’s finally here – Thrill Week – where myself and 6 other blogs will be celebrating all things crime fiction (one of my favourite genres). Pop on over to host Marce’s blog (Tea Time with Marce) to see her answers to the following questions and then have a peek at these lovely bloggers too – you’re bound to get some ideas and inspiration about which books you should be reading:

Best O’Books

Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

Mental Foodie – A Book and Food Lover

 
 
 

  So to kick off the week, here are my answers to the questionnaire:

 

1) What is your favourite genre out of Thriller, Mystery, Suspense and Horror? Why?

I think I would have to say mystery. I love a good whodunnit and especially love trying to work out the perpetrator as early on as I can (what I especially love is, despite being a seasoned crime fic reader, the author can still fool me).

2) Who are your top 3 authors in those genres?

Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark.

Both Gerritesen and McDermid I love because of their ability to pull me in from page one with promises of high body counts, red herrings and clever psychological and forensic detail. I like intelligent crime fiction and these two are among the best for me. Mary Higgins Clark, on the other hand, is my Queen of Comfort in the crime genre. Her books are pretty formulaic but that’s what I love as I know what I’m going to get and she has never failed to deliver. I think MHC is a fantastic author who gets overlooked a lot but, for me, if I ever need a comfort read then she is at the top of my pile (and despite her books being formulaic, I hardly ever guess whodunnit until the end).

I am really excited to have have interviewed Mary Higgins Clark last year and I also have interviews with both Tess Gerritsen and Val McDermid coming up shortly so keep an eye out for those 🙂

3)Tell us who your favourite male and female authors are in the genre?

Female: Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, Elly Griffiths, S J Bolton, Karen Rose, Tana French, Lisa Gardner

Male: Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben, Jo Nesbo, Steig Larsson, Peter Robinson, James Patterson, Robert Goddard

Interestingly enough, I was able to immediately write down all the names of my favourite female authors, but with the exception of the first two males I had to go off and check what books I had read (which was accompanied by many “oh yeah”‘s) Wonder why that is?

4) What book do you remember loving but don’t remember the details?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I read this when I was in my early teens and again in my twenties but I don’t remember a thing about it other than there are 10 people who are called to an island and one by one they are killed off and the reader has to try to work out who is doing it. I could read it again today and still have no idea until the end. In fact, I really must read it again – it’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

5) What has been your favourite book this year so far:

ThrillerThe Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

MysterySacrifice by S J Bolton

SuspenseBefore I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

HorrorCarrie by Stephen King

  6) What series or trilogy would you recommend ?
 
  Rizzoli & IslesTess Gerritsen (Fantastic Detective / Forensic Pathologist duo who solve some really interesting and unusuak crimes between them. My favourites!)

Hill & JordanVal McDermid (Detective and Criminal Pyschologist who work together to solve serial killer cases and really get into the mind of the perpetrators. Brilliant series!)

Ruth & NelsonElly Griffiths (I love these two! Detective and Forensic Archaeologist who solve some old and new crimes when bones have been found. You gotta love Ruth & Nelson!)

The Millenium TrilogyStieg Larsson (Swedish Journalist, Blomkvist, gets involved in some high profile cases with the aid of his rather unique sidekick, Lisbeth Salander.)

Inspector Alan BanksPeter Robinson (Set in the Yorkshire Dales where it’s supposed to be rural and sleepy except bodies keep turning up, leaving Inspector Alan Banks to investigate. Great series.)

Gretchen LowellChelsea Cain (Not for the feint hearted. Gretchen Lowell is sick, sick, sick but you can’t help but read about her exploits).

  7) Recommend 1 or 2 books that you think more around the blogosphere should read
 
  If you want a proper crime, serial killer type book then you should definitely read Retribution by Jilianne Hoffman. I loved this book – pacey, gripping, creepy. Just brilliant!
 
 
  For something a little gentler then I would recommend Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris. It’s a great book and I never saw the twist coming at the end!

  8 What authors have you tried and look forward to reading more from them?

Linda Castello – I have read her first book in a series of crime books set in the Amish community, Sworn to Silence,  and loved it so I am looking forward to reading the next two

Jane Casey – Has written 3 books and I have only read the second one, The Burning, which I loved.

Karen RoseI have only read her latest book, You Belong to Me, and I really enjoyed it and am very excited to know that I have 10 more of hers waiting to be read!

Stephen Beckett – Againm, I have only read the first one (The Chemistry of Death) out of the 4 books he has written so far with the same lead character so I have more to look forward to.

Jilianne Hoffman – Despite loving Retribution (see above) I still haven’t read the other book by the author but I do have it at home so I am looking forward to diving in to that one.

  9) What authors in the above genres are on your TBR list but you haven’t tried yet?  Who should I read soon?
 
  I am always on the look out for new crime ficiton authors so I am open to suggestions.  Based on my likes, which authors or books do YOU think I should be reading?
 
 
  Have you seen anything you like? Do you already any of the authors above or do you think you might give any of them a go? And don’t forget those recommendations 🙂
 
 

  I will be doing another Thrill Week post on 6th September and I have the MOST AMAZING GIVEAWAY too! A total of  FIFTEEN BOOKS to giveaway so make sure you drop by!

 
 

Book Review: The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

What a fascinating book this was. I expected to read about the true story of one of the most shocking crimes in 19th century England but I hadn’t bargained for also getting a fantastically written and hugely interesting social commentary of Victorian times and attitudes and behaviours with regards to the emergence of Police Detectives in this country.

Mr Whicher, the Detective called in to this particular case, was one of the first ever Scotland Yard Detectives which came with its own share of suspicion and mistrust. The case in question was of the murder of a 3 year old boy, one of several children of a well-to-do family in a country house in Wiltshire. In June 1860, the young boy was found to be missing from his cot in the morning and later that day his body was discovered (with his throat slit and a stab wound to his chest) down the servants toilet outside in the grounds. It soon became apparant that the purportrator was one of the people inside the house on that night (which consisted of the boys family, the nursemaid and housemaid). Whicher was called in to find out which one of the family murdered the three year old while the whole of England became obsessed with the drama, writing into the newspapers in their thousands offering their opinion on who committed the crime.

While I found the unravelling of this story fascinating in itself, I was also delighted to see so many references to some great Victorian authors inclduing Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. 1860 was also the year that the first victorian “sensational” novel was published and this appeared to feed the frenzy of the public. This particular case has also been reported to have been the basis for subsequent rather famous novels such as Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood , Collins’ The Moonstone and Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret all of which contain themes from this particular story. Dickens (who was also an aquaintance of Mr Whicher) even wrote letters to Collins offering his theory on what took place that night.

This book is completely non-ficiton to point that only recorded conversations and facts are included (which seems to be the reason there are alot of negative reviews about it – perhaps it seemed too dry for some). And while this is more of a why-dunnit than a who-dunnit , there are still a few surprises along the way that caught me off-guard.

I thoroughtly enjoyed this book; infact I could barely put it down. Summerscale stuck to the facts without trying to sensationalise the story any more than it already was by putting words in peoples mouths and the result was a hugely enjoyable novel about a shocking crime and its repercussions in Victorian society. Highly recommended