The Wicked Boy
The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer
by Kate Summerscale
PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press
Pub Date 12 Jul 2016
I received The Wicked Boy as an advance review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book will be released in July. Put it on your "to read" list now.
The Wicked Boy is a non-fiction look at what happened on July 8, 1895, in East London. Robert Coombes, age 13, and his brother Nathaniel, age 12, left the house to go watch a cricket game. They also left the body of their mother, dead, in her room. One of the boys killed her. They may have conspired to plan her death. The reason may have been her mistreatment of them or the elder brothers need for money to run away and have adventures. There are many "may" statements in the first half of this book.
The first half of the book deals with the murder, the trial and the attitude of the boys during all of those events. What is so striking and still resonating through my mind, is the boys' attitudes and lives before the end of the trial and after. If, as soon by their later lives, the murder was an aberration, a one time event, what led to the murders? It really is a fascinating book. Ms. Summerscale did an unbelievable amount of research to detail the lives of all involved. The epilogue contains one of those very rare moments of serendipity that researchers rarely have. For Ms. Summerscale and the reader, it was a satisfying conclusion to the question of the wickedness of Robert Coombes.