Kate Summerscale makes a detailed and authoritative (if implicit) argument here for the so-called Road Hill murder of 1860 as the first sensational media-saturated murder mystery of its kind, predating Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Charles Manson, and O.J. Simpson by decades and more—detailed and authoritative not least because practically a quarter of her book is given over to notes and sourcings. But the sum is no rote rendering of dry details. In the first place, the case still retains both its mystery and sensation some 150 years later. On an early summer's night, a middle-class Victorian English family's three-year-old baby is plucked from the room where he slept with his 22-year-old nursemaid and his infant sister, across a short hallway from the room shared by his parents and five-year-old sister, on the second floor of the house (or "first," above the ground floor, in British and European usage). The baby Saville's body was not found until the evening of the following day, dumped in the pit of the outhouse used by the servants at a corner of the property, savagely stabbed to death. In the second place, the detective who led the investigation, Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, was one of the eight principals who established Scotland Yard and he also served as the inspiration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone and, in part, Charles Dickens's unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Summerscale also reasons that the case influenced Henry James as he wrote "The Turn of the Screw," and contends that Whicher represents one of the earliest and most enduring models for fictional detectives: logical, sharp-witted about physical evidence and forensics, canny in his understanding of human nature, and confidently following his hunches. Her book methodically takes the case from beginning to end, from the murder itself to the investigation that eventually stalled to the shocking confession that came years later, and even follows up the fates of the various principals, some of which turn out to be surprising and even confounding of expectations. Steeped as it is in the literature of both true crime and murder mystery fiction, particularly of the now mostly forgotten pre-Sherlock Holmes Victorian era, Summerscale the writer shows on practically every page how well she has absorbed the lessons of those gone before. It's a gripping, elegantly told tale that is exhaustive in nailing down every last detail, maintaining a well-won veracity on every page. It's also a perfect pleasure to read, endlessly fascinating and opening many new avenues to explore for crime aficionados.