Angus murder cases subject of new book

Murder most foul: The new book by Review columnist Forbes Inglis.'Contributed photograph
Murder most foul: The new book by Review columnist Forbes Inglis.'Contributed photograph

A NEW book that brings together some of the most notorious murder cases in the Angus and Dundee areas is set to appear on local bookshelves this weekend.

‘Murders & Misdeeds: Angus and Dundee, 1765-1900’ is the latest publication by The Review’s Gable Ender columnist Forbes Inglis, which draws on his interest in local tales and history.

Fascinated by the story of Margaret Shuttleworth, the Montrose woman tried for the murder of her husband and convicted on the most circumstantial of evidence, Forbes embarked on a mission to discover more about the men and women who were accused of capital crimes in Angus and Dundee during the 18th and 19th centuries.

He uncovered many interesting stories during the course of his research, including the trial of Kitty Nairn for incest and the murder of her husband, a man 20 years her senior, an accused who would have hung had the Crown been more careful in drawing up the indictment; the intriguing case of the Kirriemuir hotelier’s wife who might, like other victims, have been responsible for her own death and the enigma of the Dundee murderer William Bury – was he really Jack the Ripper?

Until 1868 public hanging was the punishment meted out to most of those convicted of murder, which meant they paid the penalty in full view of a crowd gathered for the occasion so that justice could be seen to be done. Unfortunately, the hangmen of the time weren’t always well prepared and the book also includes tales of incompetence and at least one ‘stand-in’ executioner.

Forbes, who studied law at Dundee University, looks at the stories behind the trials and also speculates on how modern forensic science might have changed some of the verdicts.

He is also the author of two other books on local topics, ‘Phantoms and Fairies’, and ‘The Sea Enriches’, a collection of his ‘Gable Ender’ columns. His new book which, like the others, is issued by Brechin publishers The Pinkfoot Press, costs £8.99 and will be on sale from Saturday.

The book will be launched officially at Montrose Library this Saturday at 11am.