Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

Very early on the morning of June 30, 1860, a murder took place at an English country house called Road Hill. The owner's son Saville Kent, 3, was gently lifted from his bed. His assailant suffocated him, stabbed him in the chest, cut his throat and finally dropped him head-down through a hole in the servants' outhouse. The Road Hill House murder became a national obsession; it seemed to reveal some sick secret truth lurking in the hushed, upholstered heart of the Victorian household. The task of solving the crime fell to one Jonathan Whicher, one of the original eight London policemen selected to join the new, élite unit of detectives headquartered at Scotland Yard. This is a dark, vicious true-crime story, but it's also the story of the birth of forensic science.