Book Review: The Wicked Boy: by Kate Summerscale


I obtained a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review. The book was a very enjoyable read. This has to be the most researched book I’ve ever read in my entire reading life. No stone has been left unturned by the writer Kate Summerscale into the life and times of Robert Coombs the Victorian child murderer and that of many of his associates.
I’m not sure which aspect of the research all woven into a fascinating narrative, appealed to me the most, but it just about covered a number of my interests in one fell swoop. We have history, social history, Victorian crime and punishment, emigration, family history, maritime history, Gallipoli during the First World War and later in France and Flanders with quotes from a book that was with me on a visit to the Somme ‘Somme Mud’ by EPF Lynch, where I did visit the places mentioned in the book and now also in this one
I was very surprised by the descriptions of life in Broadmoor for inmates of the asylum for the criminally insane during Victorian times. According to the book, a reporter wrote in an article published in the Daily Mail, that the day room ‘looked like the smoking room of a comfortable but unpretentious hotel’. The regime was both light and enlightened. Lloyds Weekly described it as ‘a murderers paradise’. There are interesting descriptions of the other inmates and the crimes that brought about their incarceration in Broadmoor and their peculiarities within the walls of the establishment where they appeared to lead quite a comfortable life.
An absolutely fascinating read and I much preferred it to the other book by this author ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’
To Purchase on Amazon