Andrew Lycett

Day of the Detective

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, or The Murder at Road Hill House


Bloomsbury 360pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

With his hazy command of forensics and his restless scouring for clues, the detective is an archetypal mid-Victorian figure, reflecting the inquisitiveness of an age seeking to extend the boundaries of knowledge.

Policemen, such as the Bow Street Runners and Robert Peel’s ‘Bobbies’, had, of course, been around much longer. But their methods were crude, and the methodical, evidence-sifting detective only surfaced in 1842, when the Metropolitan Police, concerned at criminals’ unhindered ability to operate across the borders of its various London districts, set up a small, centralised detective division at Scotland Yard.

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