'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

Published by: Penguin Press
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Print Length: 369 pages   
ISBN: 9781594205781
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
My Source: Netgalley

From the internationally bestselling author, a deeply researched and atmospheric murder mystery of late Victorian-era London
In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London — for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually she forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey.
Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. The court heard testimony about Robert’s severe headaches, his fascination with violent criminals and his passion for ‘penny dreadfuls’, the pulp fiction of the day. He seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced the thirteen-year-old to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Yet Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert–one that would have profoundly shocked anyone who thought they understood the Wicked Boy.
At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes’s case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man’s capacity to overcome the past.

There was a lot of research went into this book I'm sure! A terrible crime of matricide in 1895. I was a little disappointed in it as it was a lot of detail and info, more so than 'story'. Lots of info on the published thoughts on insanity and child psychology of the time, which was a little 'out there'! I would have liked to have gotten to 'know' the characters a little more, but this is a true crime book and from so long ago. The last chapters that told about the brothers later in life was very interesting and my favorite part of the book. 

This book will be available in the US on July 12th and is now available in the UK...

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