The year is 1860, and police detection is in its infancy. A young boy, 2 months shy of his 4th birthday, is found in a privy with his throat slashed. The murder has taken place behind locked gates; the only logical suspects are the child's family and three live-in female servants. The local constabulary knows the solution is beyond them and send for Scotland Yard. No, this is not a novel, but a still notorious (in England, at least) true life crime committed by - well, let's not go there. What the book is actually about is the development of "detective science" (remember, not only was there no DNA testing available, they couldn't even take fingerprints), and how the detective (in this case, Mr. Whicher - apparently pronounced "Witcher") came to his conclusion. It is also about what Wilkie Collins aptly christened "detective fever" - the public fascination with crime and individual reaction to it. And although the scientific breakthroughs have been significant, the public response hasn't changed much in nearly 150 years.
This is a fascinating book on many levels and in several different interests as well. Definitely worth the time.
Recommended by Jan