Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: The Wicked Boy

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child MurdererTrue crime set in the east end of London in 1895 - featuring a case of matricide where the accused is a child. A 13yo boy and his brother go on a spending spree after the murder of their mother. The crime is discovered; the boys are brought to trial; one testifies against the other; and one ends up in Broadmoor Asylum.

What I was hoping for was a concise documentation of the crime, the trial, the outcome, a "where are they now", an appendix with relevant documentation. What I got was a lengthy tome, overly heavy on the historic, social, geographical details; filled with lengthy explanations, unnecessary narrative and interjection; medical and psychological theories; and extensive use of newspaper articles, archives, court documents.

I have no issue with the writing - the case was certainly intriguing and no doubt a cause celebre of the day. What I have issue with is the amount of information the reader is required to absorb, when half could have easily have been discarded without altering the gist of the storytelling. Sometimes less is more - certainly in this case it should have been.

No comments:

Post a Comment