Mr. Whicher, the Prequel

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Mar 5, 2013

Last night I finished up The Dagenham Murder, the story of a Victorian police constable’s mysterious and violent death and its investigation by, among others, our estimable Mr. Whicher. Quite enjoyed the work. I’ve posted a book review at Goodreads, but I also want to note a few things from the perspective of my own little project.

First, commendable research by the authors. Having performed a limited amount of real, primary-source Victorian-era archival research for Brilliant Deduction—mostly in trying to reconstruct the life of Whicher’s contemporary “Paddington” Pollaky—I have a deep appreciation and respect for what Rhodes, Shelden and Abnett accomplished. They bring to life more than a dozen people, most of them humble figures without anything like the press coverage trail available for Pollaky, aside from their involvement in this one sensational crime and its aftermath.

Meanwhile, I was nonetheless especially interested in one of the few individuals with notoriety beyond the context of the Dagenham case, i.e. Jack Whicher. For those who share my interest, The Dagenham Murder is a must-read. Whicher’s role in the story is limited, but significant, certainly in the context of his own career. His investigation into George Clark’s murder, with its many similarities and curious differences compared to the Road Murder investigation that rerouted his career years later, offers almost limitless material for interpretation and speculation. Other little details also enrich the picture of Whicher and his work, including contextual history such as how detection in Australia (relevant to The Tichborne Affair, the great case of Whicher’s PI career) compared with the British analogue, as well as personal notes such as those revealed by Whicher’s last will. (For those interested, The Dagenham Murder is available via Amazon.)

Read more…

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Received goods: The Dagenham Murder

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Feb 4, 2013

Since publishing my book, I have made the wonderful discovery that a project that started with what I could find has also become about what finds me. Already, a couple of correspondents have found their way to this site and shared related material. One example is The Dagenham Murder.

Copies of The Dagenham Murder, plus brochure

Recently arrived via Royal Mail

One of the authors contacted me, prompted by my inclusion of Jonathan Whicher in Brilliant Deduction, to tell me about this book; it recounts the story of an 1840s murder investigation, still unsolved. Then-Sergeant Whicher was part of the small, early Scotland Yard force that tried to resolve the mystery.

I do wish I had known about this six months or a year ago, but obviously one is going to miss some things. And then, it seems, learn of a few of them after one publishes. One good reason for having a companion site with a blog, then; at least I have a good way of making further discoveries like this available.

I hope to get started reading The Dagenham Murder, soon, and once I’ve finished I will post some additional notes here. In the meantime, for those interested, it seems to be available through Amazon UK; the author is also selling some remaining copies and, if all else fails, you can contact me and I will get you in touch.

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