Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (April 26)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

The book I’ve chosen to use this week is a book that I am approaching with a high level of anticipation; The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale who wrote the brilliant non-fiction book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. This should keep me nicely entertained over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Wicked Boy


Early in the morning of Monday 8 July 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes and his twelve-year-old brother Nattie set out from their small, yellow-brick terraced house in East London to watch a cricket match at Lord’s. Their father had gone to sea the previous Friday, the boys told their neighbours, and their mother was visiting her family in Liverpool. Over the next ten days Robert and Nattie spent extravagantly, pawning their parents’ valuables to fund trips to the theatre and the seaside. But as the sun beat down on the Coombes house, a strange smell began to emanate from the building.
When the police were finally called to investigate, the discovery they made sent the press into a frenzy of horror and alarm, and Robert and Nattie were swept up in a criminal trial that echoed the outrageous plots of the ‘penny dreadful’ novels that Robert loved to read.
In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale has uncovered a fascinating true story of murder and morality – it is not just a meticulous examination of a shocking Victorian case, but also a compelling account of its aftermath, and of man’s capacity to overcome the past. Amazon

Part i



Early in the morning of Monday 8 July 1895, Robert and Nathanial Coombes dressed themselves, collected the family’s rent book from a room downstairs, and went out to the back yard, It was just after 6 a.m. and already bright and warm.
Robert was thirteen and Nattie twelve. Their father had gone to sea on Friday, as chief steward on a steamship bound for New York, leaving the brothers and their mother, Emily, at home together. They lived in a small, new, yellow-brick terraced house at 35 Cave Road, Plaistow, a poor but respectable working-class district in West Ham, the biggest borough in the docklands of East London.
In an attempt to attract the attention of their neighbour in number 37, Robert picked up a handful of stones and threw them at the roof of the washhouse next door.

Please note that this is an excerpt from a proof copy

I’m predisposed to love this book, I’m a sucker for well-researched Victorian true-crime and in my opinion Kate Summerscale achieves this without compromising the ‘readability’. Have you read this book? What did you think?

Do you want to know more? Please leave your thoughts and/or links in the comment box below!


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

30 thoughts on “First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (April 26)

  1. Oh, this sounds really absorbing, Cleo! The era, the setting, the case, it’s all appealing! I’m really going to be keen to see what you think of this one, and I think it’s going on my wishlist even now.


    1. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher is probably my favourite non-fiction book of all time – you can see my copy on my blog header… but I can’t talk I have had some books, that I know I’ll enjoy, on my shelf for years too


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