The Wicked Boy (Paperback)
  • The Wicked Boy (Paperback)
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The Wicked Boy (Paperback)

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£12.99
Paperback 400 Pages
Published: 09/03/2017
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Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction 2017

The gripping, fascinating account of a shocking murder case that sent late Victorian Britain into a frenzy, by the number one bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

'Her research is needle-sharp and her period detail richly atmospheric, but what is most heartening about this truly remarkable book is the story of real-life redemption that it brings to light' John Carey, Sunday Times

Early in the morning of Monday 8 July 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes and his twelve-year-old brother Nattie set out from their small, yellow brick terraced house in east London to watch a cricket match at Lord’s. Their father had gone to sea the previous Friday, leaving the boys and their mother at home for the summer.

Over the next ten days Robert and Nattie spent extravagantly, pawning family valuables to fund trips to the theatre and the seaside. During this time nobody saw or heard from their mother, though the boys told neighbours she was visiting relatives. As the sun beat down on the Coombes house, an awful smell began to emanate from the building.

When the police were finally called to investigate, what they found in one of the bedrooms sent the press into a frenzy of horror and alarm, and Robert and Nattie were swept up in a criminal trial that echoed the outrageous plots of the ‘penny dreadful’ novels that Robert loved to read.

In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale has uncovered a fascinating true story of murder and morality – it is not just a meticulous examination of a shocking Victorian case, but also a compelling account of its aftermath, and of man’s capacity to overcome the past.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781408851166
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 359 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

No other writer could have made the Coombes case so fascinating and so vivid ... It would be impossible to read this dry-eyed - Cressida Connelly, Spectator

An extraordinary book which will stay with you - Vanessa Berridge, Daily Express

Gripping... Summerscale is an exquisite storyteller. She is judicious in her use of detail, subtle in her unspoken connections between the past and the present.... This is the story of one wicked boy, but it is also a plea for compassion and empathy - Daisy Goodwin, The Times

For her latest forensic investigation into the throttled passions of Victorian family life, Summerscale has moved forward 35 years to 1895 and turned away from the provincial bourgeois home to the working-class terraces of London’s East End ... [a] fine account ... subtle and confident - Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

Unexpectedly touching... a fascinating account of a murder and its endless reverberations - Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

As Kate Summerscale has proved before, she has a wonderfully sharp eye for stories which turn out not to be quite what they seem... a remarkably heartening story - John Preston, Daily Mail

Compelling... it gripped and stoked the national imagination, just as it surely will again - Philippa Stockley, Evening Standard

A work of social history that is as compassionate as it is absorbing... we almost feel we are wandering through these scenes ourselves - Rebecca Gowers, The Oldie

Ultimately, the narrative is an exploration of Victorian attitudes to juvenile crime, and this pacy slice of social history acts as both hawk-eyed prosecution and gentle defence - Zoe Apostolides, Financial Times

An absorbing account of fin-de-siecle Britain... [and] a powerful story about vulnerable and neglected children, both then and now - Daisy Hay, Daily Telegraph

It’s a fascinating story and Summerscale tells it beautifully... [Her] sympathetic and intelligent study is full of social interest too. I can’t imagine that it could have been done better - Alan Massie, Scotsman

The challenge, to which Ms Summerscale rises wonderfully well, is to sustain the reader’s interest in him for the remaining 50-odd years of his life … Evocative … Through a mixture of serendipity and meticulous research, Ms Summerscale is able to add one final, heart-stopping twist - Economist

Redemption comes twice in this account … An extremely touching twist … Scrupulous and occasionally startling - Rachel Cooke, Observer

Summerscale has performed a stunning post-mortem of “the horror” at number 35 … Talk about bringing history alive - Sunday Express

It is above all her skill in creating a context for the crime which makes The Wicked Boy so readable … the sounds and smells of the East End docks, from which their father set sail, are evoked with particular vividness. More fascinating still are the ideas of the age ... An extraordinary tale of redemption - Tablet

Her research is needle-sharp and her period detail richly atmospheric, but what is most heartening about this truly remarkable book is the story of real-life redemption that it brings to light - John Carey, Sunday Times

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Lindsay Seddon at Chester

“A detailed account of a gruesome matricide”

Having read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher a few years ago, I expected this to be good and Summerscale did not disappoint. A detailed account of a shocking and gruesome matricide committed by a 13 year old boy,... More

Hardback edition
1 similar book recommended
Helpful? Upvote 113

“Real-life told as an artful story”

Kate Summerscale's newest work follows the trend of her previous works; in taking the factual, she pieces together a story that reads as, and is as compelling as any work of fiction. I was fortunate enough to... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 103

“Brilliant - as always!”

It's not often that I'll put the fiction I'm reading aside for non-fiction, but there are exceptions and when my copy of Kate Summerscale's latest finally arrived I was instantly hooked. As always... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 100

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