In Murders and Misdeeds: Angus and Dundee 1765-1900, author Forbes Inglis continues his explorations of the darker past of the local area.
A previous book, Phantoms and Fairies, covered the supernatural and fantastic but now attention has turned to human misendeavours .
With his trademark wit and charm the author takes the reader on a journey from 1765 to 1900, a time of great social change in this part of the country and Scotland as a whole.
It is fascinating to see how policing, the law and society itself changes with each case that is examined.
But this is not just a record of what the papers said at the time. The author also weaves in stories passed on through the generations to add colour and intrigue.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the author’s speculations about how the cases would differ should modern forensic science be applied.
By the same token it is also quite sobering to think how many men and women were sent to the gallows on the back of relatively flimsy evidence.
There are accounts from all over Angus and Dundee from the most rural of communities to the inner city. It is interesting to note the similarities and differences between urban and city life.
The author’s knowledge of the subject shines through and he provides a balanced and thoughtful view in each case. No murder, or indeed misdeed, is sensationalised and in some cases it’s unclear who the sympathy should lie with - the convicted or the victim.
Without being gruesome the author conveys the seriousness of the crimes and adds interesting notes and additions to the tales throughout.
This is a well worthwhile read - just don’t read it alone in the dark!