Get 2 top 10 audiobooks free with a LoveReading exclusive

LoveReading has teamed up with Audiobooks.com to give you the chance to get 2 free audiobooks when you sign up. Try it for 30 days for free with no strings attached. You can cancel anytime, although we're sure you'll love it. Click the button to find out more:

Find out more

The Wicked Boy

by Kate Summerscale

Crime / Mystery eBooks of the Month History The Real World

LoveReading View on The Wicked Boy

The Wicked Boy is a grim, dark and insightful examination of a controversial Victorian murder. In 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes was accused of killing his mother in cold blood, fuelling media frenzy and a highly publicised trial. There was much speculation at the time over what led to Emily Coombes’ murder, with no definitive conclusions. The first half of The Wicked Boy focuses on the trial itself, providing a well-researched insight into early psychiatry, law courts and forensic methods, at a time of social and political unrest. The book highlights neglect and the class divide and whether cheap adventure stories could be fuelling children’s delinquent behaviour – not so different to the computer games discussions of the modern age. The second half of the book focuses on the ‘after’ – what happened to Robert Coombes and his family once the trial was over. I found this particularly fascinating, and even uplifting and fulfilling, as Kate Summerscale turned a story of a shocking crime into one of redemption, resilience and rehabilitation. I won’t forget the story of the Coombes family very easily, thanks to her compelling storytelling, as The Wicked Boy provides proof that murder and murderers aren’t always what they seem.

Victoria Goldman

The Wicked Boy Synopsis

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.

The Wicked Boy Press 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

If you loved this, you might like these...

Call Me Star Girl
Inborn
Time is a Killer From the bestselling author of After the Crash
To Catch a Killer Enter the mind of a murderer and you may never get out

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408851166
Publication date: 09/03/2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408851166
Publication date: 9th March 2017
Author: Kate Summerscale
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 400 pages
Genres: Crime / Mystery, eBook Favourites, History, The Real World,
Categories: True crime,

About Kate Summerscale

Kate Summerscale was born in 1965. She is the author of the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, which won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. She has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London with her son. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House, published by Bloomsbury in April 2008, has been awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2008.

More About Kate Summerscale

More Books By Kate Summerscale

Cover for The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Cover for The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
View All Books By Kate Summerscale

Share this book

NEW INDIE AND SELF PUBLISHED BOOK REVIEW AND PROMOTION SERVICE LAUNCHED!    Read More
×