The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale


I was determined to finish this book before the end of Halloween which I have now done.  This is my bonus book to wrap up the RIP Challenge, which, along with everyone else, I thank Carl for hosting.  I’ve had fun reading all my spooky books and reading what everyone else thought of spooky books they read.  Lots of Shirley Jackson.  Lots of Wilkie Collins.  These are the books I read:

Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
I’m Looking Through You, Jennifer Finney Boylan
The Seance, John Harwood
Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourn

and this one, my bonus one; and I liked Her Fearful Symmetry best.  Obviously.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is about Victorians and detectives and manor house mysteries.  I like all of these things, though murder mysteries tend to be dramatically more fun when they are fictional.  In its essentials, this book is about a three-year-old boy who gets taken from his bedroom and his throat slit – though as the author notes at the end, the search for the resolution to this mystery distances us from the child, rather than making us think about him.

As a person who appreciates detectives and their ability to solve mysteries, I wanted more triumphs for the eponymous Mr. Whicher!  In fact altogether more Mr. Whicher!  I liked it at the beginning when Kate Summerscale – good name, eh? – was telling us all about the clever things that Mr. Whicher did.  I was saddish after the Victorian public decided that they didn’t like Mr. Whicher after all, despite his being extremely clever.

I don’t like the Victorian public.  They’re jerks!  They turned on Oscar Wilde in similar fashion, like rabid wolves!  Despite his being extremely clever also.  I am going onward to read some stories and watch some TV about people who are clever, and people who talk fast.  I talk incredibly fast, and I like it when other people talk fast, and that’s why, despite the obvious flaws of both, I remain fond of The Gilmore Girls and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  (But not West Wing – can anyone explain to me why The West Wing is in any way enjoyable?  I’ve found it so boring when I’ve seen it in the past!)

Other reviews of Mr. Whicher: an adventure in reading, things mean a lot, Farm Lane Books Blog, Savidge Reads, Stuck in a Book, Caribou’s Mom, my cozy book nook, A Book A Week, As Usual I Need More Bookshelves, Semicolon, The Bookling, Scribbles, Medieval Bookworm, Sandy Nawrot, Literary License, Lesa’s Book Critiques, Thoughts of Joy, Crime Scraps, A Writer’s Pen, 1 More Chapter, and let me know, won’t you, if I missed yours?

19 thoughts on “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale

  1. Yes I wanted to read more about Mr Whicher too…I was sad for him when he got quietly nudged out of the way…when he was clearly right all along anyway!

    Glad you enjoyed it, and I’ve been loving reading these sorts of books too over the past couple of months…sensation novels are the best!

    • The other thing was, I wished we had found out properly whether William was complicit in the crime – the author obviously thinks so, but it’s purely supposition on her (& clever clever Whicher’s) part. I wanted him to be thoroughly justified in his beliefs about the crime!

  2. I talk incredibly fast, and I like it when other people talk fast,

    I am with you on this one sister.

    Whenever something happens that gets the public all in an uproar, and then other people say – what is society coming to? I always think, if the Victorians (or the Depression people, Dionne quints anyone?) could get their hands on this, today’s reaction would seem mild. Crazy overreacting, jump on the bandwagon Victorians.

    But great book, eh?

    • Excellent book! And I love reading the articles in the newspaper that are all, DISGUSTING AND FOUL CRIME etc. etc. It makes me appreciate the fair and balanced approach our media people take these days. 😛

  3. Very true about fictional crimes being a lot more fun! Btw, I finished Strong Poison and can’t wait until my ban lets me get Have His Carcase. And then Gaudy Night 😀

    • I’m not trying to sway you from your course of virtue, but does your ban encompass books you do not purchase but are given? Cause lady, I will send you Have His Carcase & Gaudy Night. They are mighty good. 🙂

  4. I’m not convinced I see a huge difference between Victorian public uproar and contemporary media-hyped public uproar. But I’d be happy to be persuaded otherwise.

    I liked this, but – woah! – what a lot of details. It was amazing, and sort of over-stuffed at the same time.

    • Hm, the difference is pretty much, the Victorian public uproar made Oscar Wilde very sad, which I care about A LOT, whereas contemporary media-hyped public uproar has not yet done damage to anyone of whom I feel protective.

      I know what you mean. There were times when I wanted to get on to the resolution when the culprit gets caught and goes off to jail.

    • Hahaha, well, I feel like I’m on review hiatus because I’m rereading all the Amelia Peabody books over again, pretty much to the exclusion of all else, and I don’t want to renew book after book & try to think of new things to say each time. So I feel like I’m a big slacker book blogger right now!

  5. It’s a great book isnt it and one that makes non fiction, which I struggle with on occasion, really easy to digest. I loved this book and must dig it out again for my sensation season!

    I should have joined in with this challenge, maybe next year!?

  6. Have you checked out Sorkin’s Sports Night? It’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows–and it’s a quick watch as it was only two seasons.

    • Oh, you are great! I didn’t even know that existed but it sounds like utterly my thing. I will save it as a prize for myself when I finish my grad school applications.

  7. Oh my gosh, I’m the only one among my friends who found West Wing boring! I enjoyed Mr. Whicher too. I’m curious about Her Fearful Symetry although I didn’t like her first book…couldn’t get through it.

    • I have had so many people tell me the West Wing is good, but yeah, it’s bored me when I’ve seen it. However, I have been unimpressed by single episodes of other TV shows in the past, which upon watching them more extensively I grew to love.

  8. Pingback: Wrapping up 2009 « Jenny's Books

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