Once Upon A Book – Charlee Rae's Book Reviews

"Books Fall Open, You Fall In"

The Wicked Boy (The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer) by Kate Summerscale


I rated this book 2 out of 5 stars

I received this book free from Netgalley.

In the summer of 1895, brothers Robert Coombes (13 years old) and Nattie Coombes (12 years old) were accused of murdering their mother. Robert’s guilt was never in question, and he never denied the charges when the death was eventually discovered. For ten days after the murder, their mother’s body lay in the upstairs bedroom, while Robert, Nattie and a simple-minded colleague of their father’s, who had no idea the crime that had been committed, went to watch cricket, to the seaside, coffee shops and the park, played cards and other games. Family members soon grew suspicious, and the crime was eventually uncovered.

A true crime novel, I really went into this book assuming I would just become captivated by it. There is a morbid fascination that one has when it comes to child killers. The mere idea that someone so young could be capable of such violence is both interesting and frightening at the same time. Given the time period as the late 1800’s, I was especially intrigued since it was even more of a rarity back then. Unfortunately I can only say this book was ok. It was well written and was obviously well researched, but it didn’t engage me and seemed to lacked depth. It could be because it didn’t appear that the trial lawyers had any interest in finding a motive or maybe because you don’t get any real sense of the emotions of all the people involved, but I was disappointed. It’s more of a “this happened, that happened and he said, she said” type of read and I had hoped that the book might have tried to make sense as to why Robert killed his mother. It didn’t really. Instead the focus was on Robert’s mental state and whether or not he was insane at the time of the murder. Of course it is interesting to see how they viewed such things and what they considered a person to be insane, but that alone couldn’t hold my interest. I hate to admit it because it sounds so callous, but I ended up getting bored and just skimmed through the end.

Available on Amazon at the link below:

The Wicked Boy



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This entry was posted on May 23, 2016 by in Books I've read, Non-fiction and tagged , .
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