A young boy is murdered at the family home in Wiltshire, what happens next is a series of extraordinary events to determine who did the heinous crime. A non-fiction account of true story, this book takes you back in time to the original Victorian whodunit..
I’m not normally one to give bad reviews but unfortunately, that’s what this is. I was so disappointed! I will hold my hand up and admit I didn’t actually know this was a piece of non-fiction but I luuurve non-fiction novels so that shouldn’t have changed my opinion.
I actually couldn’t wait to just hurry up and finish this book so I could get on with my life. Firstly the way the story is told is immediately off-putting. I felt like I was reading someone’s notes not a narrative.
The most irritating part of this book was the way Summerscale had done so much research that she’d felt the need to cram as much of it in as possible. I think if you were to take out the irrelevant anecdotes the book would be half as thin! It really did detract from the story, to the point where I couldn’t remember where we’d got to. I’ve always been taught my writers that in-depth research is paramount but if you don’t include every crumb, then that’s fine. I don’t think Summerscale got that memo.
Whilst I’m on what seems to be an uber rant, I found the linear narrative infuriating. Basically there wasn’t one. We spent the whole book jumping backwards and forwards with each character whilst being drip-fed the main narrative. We had Whicher’s whole history laid out before us before he’d even arrived in Road. I was told his parents, date of birth, childhood house. And in the same chapter I was told about his retirement. That’s a sign of poor storytelling to me.
It’s not very often I come across a book I don’t like, I am always determined to see the best in everything even if there are some flaws but I just couldn’t enjoy this book. There was one element of the story that I liked and that was learning about how crime investigations worked in that era. As the book was a true account, it gave an accurate description of the procedures for the time. This was particularly interesting but I wouldn’t say it redeemed the rest of the book. Sorry Summerscale, this just wasn’t my thing.
You can buy Summerscale’s book here.