The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
At 5 o'clock in the morning, a curly-headed toddler went missing from his bed in the spacious mansion in the English countryside, never to be seen alive again.
Young Saville Kent's soon-to-be-discovered vicious murder at the hands of someone who was surely a family member or trusted servant excited the press, the populace, and the authorities and ultimately drew the attention of one of Scotland Yard's first and finest detectives, Jack Whicher. Like the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Detective Whicher had a keen mind and almost sixth sense for uncovering criminals in the most unlikely places. With no forensics lab modern or otherwise to help him discover the identity of Saville's killer, Whicher used reason and intuition when setting about his task.
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is more than a simple recounting of what was known and reported at the time of the murders. Fortunately for readers, there is another detective on the case. Author Kate Summerscale has gone through not just the 1860s documents for answers. She has reached to the future, unearthing the strange fates of the Kent family and how their dark secrets were hidden from their descendants for decades. What the author found proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mr. Whicher's proposed why's of the case were dead on the money.
As a fan of forensics, history, and mystery, I found this book to be an excellent blend of all three.
The book's Web site is certainly worth a visit and includes a reading guide for book groups as well as the first chapter and extracts from original documents. An online interview with the author may be found here.