The Case of the Missing Nightdress

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale is the award winning true story of the heinous murder of a three-year-old boy which occurred in England in 1860. Expertly researched, this book introduces the reader to the inception of police detectives in the days of Dickens.

After Saville Kent is discovered missing from his bed in the wee hours of the morning in Road Hill House, an investigation ensues led by Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Jonathan Whicher whose keen powers of observation lead to the arrest of the deceased child’s older female half-sibling. Lacking sufficient evidence, the case remained unsolved until the murderer confessed five years later. Meanwhile, Detective Whicher, who was convinced of the guilt of the older sister, ended-up leaving his position after suffering misplaced public ridicule while the case remained unsolved.

I found this story fascinating and at the same time, astonishing because of the gruesome facts in the case and the bizarre  history of the family involved. Even more amazing was the fact that the murder lived to be 100-years-old!

Although I thought some parts of this book were tedious, overall it was engrossing and provided a birds-eye view into the early days of police detection and the men who diligently set about solving crimes in the Victorian era. Highly recommended.

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About dianeledet

Professional Writing Consultant, Graduate of DePaul University School for New Learning 2008
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