Sunday, December 27, 2020

Book Review - The Wicked Boy: An Infamous Murder in Victorian London by Kate Summerscale



Photo Source - Amazon

During the summer of 1895, two brothers Robert and Nattie Coombes are spending money lavishly near the docklands of East London. During a span of ten days in July, they took trips to the theater and ate out. When neighbors ask about their mother, the brothers said their mother is visiting family in Liverpool and she left them home alone. However, their aunt was suspicious because the boys' mother never mentioned she was traveling. After several days of not hearing from her sister-in-law, their aunt forced herself into their home. Upon entry of the home, the aunt noticed a pungent smell in the air and when she went upstairs, she found the boys' mother dead in her bed and badly decomposed. She called the cops and the two brothers were arrested for the murder of their mother.

Robert confessed that he had murdered his mother, while his brother, Nattie testified against Robert in exchange for a plea deal. During the trial, Robert's lawyers argued that Robert was insane during the murder. The court heard testimony on both of the brothers' personalities and their history. Evidence was given for Robert's severe headaches, his interest in "penny dreadfuls", and his obsession with violent criminals.  Robert showed no remorse for the crime but, neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced Robert to Broadmoor. Broadmoor was an infamous criminal lunatic asylum. Robert begins to build a new life for himself behind bars.

I thought the book had an interesting premise. The author had done the research and added a few fascinating facts. However, after reading more than eighty percent of the book, I decided to stop reading. I felt like the author was repeating the same thing over and over. The book dragged on very slowly that eventually I lost all interest. I felt like the author included a lot of details for things that didn't matter (to me atleast) like descriptions of the cricket games the brothers went to or the details of the prisoners. If the author had been more concised, I think I would have been more interested in finding out more about the murder.


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