The Wicked Boy – Kate Summerscale

Another day, another Summerscale. The Wicked Boy tells the story of Robert and Nattie Coombes two young boys, who in 1895 set out to watch the cricket at Lourdes and then spend the next ten days living it up with the help of an old colleague of their fathers. That is until an awful stench and worried relatives discover that the boys have murdered their mother while their father is at dea. What follows is an investigation into their highly publicised trial and what followed afterwards.

Another of my non-fiction November offerings The Wicked Boy provided fascinating insight into Victorian society, particularly the now outanish ways in which they described and explained criminality and insanity, how the media and literature at the time reacted and surprisingly the ever=present role of Australia as a colony to run away to. I will admit this was a tad wordy and tedious at times through the middle. I was unable to read too much of it at a time without zoning out, perhaps from the volume of information. I did find that it picked up I the second half particularly as the reader follow’s Robert’s life in the future. I have to admit the path it followed surprised me greatly and will leave you reflecting on your opinions from the crime and the trial differently.

A highlight for me was finding it really interesting how the story jumped to Australia and ended up intersecting with some important parts of Australia’s history, which anyone with an interest in Australia’s history might find fascinating. Just make sure you push through the middle if it feels a little hard going, it really is worth it. Overall, this was a fascinating read, another win by Summerscale that I would recommend picking up for something a bit different.

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