Book Review: Blood In The Glens: True Crime From The Scottish Highlands


Blood In The Glens: True Crime From The Scottish Highlands is an anthology of true crime cases taken from the Highlands of Scotland, in the United Kingdom. The author is a retired lawyer named Jean Mclennan who, apart from having an extensive background in civil law and a vested interest in criminal law, has also served as a Sheriff in the Highlands. This combined knowledge and experience is utilised and brought together to create this fascinating book.

Featured here are 11 cases of true crime and murder from the Scottish Highlands, the majority of which will not be common knowledge cases to any reader of true crime. TTCE as has mentioned before enjoys a well written and researched account of any case, especially if it is a case to peak the attention, and is a case that is not widely published. This book does just that.

Out of the 11 cases featured in the book, the majority will not be familiar to the reader – in fact (and TTCE modestly considers himself as very well read on the subject of British true crime) there was only one case that was very familiar, albeit one that TTCE would say was well documented. This case in question concerns the murders committed in the 1970’s for gain by the “Killer Butler” Archibald Hall/Roy Fontaine. The chapter in this book dedicated to this case would serve as a worthy introduction to those unfamiliar with the crimes of Fontaine, and this is not written lightly as Fontaine’s case is a fascinating study and well worthy of a reader’s attention.

The only other case that TTCE had heard of in this book concerns the disappearance/suspected murders of Renee Macrae and her son Andrew in 1976, and again TTCE was only aware of the bare facts. It is TTCE’s opinion that the account contained in this book is the definitive account of this case. The remaining nine cases TTCE would not say are ones that spring to the forefront of the enthusiast’s mind, so it was always appealing to read and learn about new cases.

Readers will learn of the crimes of Iain Simpson, and how his case (whilst deserving of a chapter solely devoted to itself) ties in with the escape from custody of killers Robert Mone and Thomas Mccullough, and the bloody rampage that followed. Amongst the cases also featured are the murders committed by the “Casanova Killer” Brian Newcombe; the murder of 5 year old Danielle Reid; and the unsolved murders of Alistair Wilson, Kevin Mcleod and Willie Macrae.

TTCE overall found Blood In The Glens: True Crime From The Scottish Highlands a very enjoyable book to read. The accounts of each case are clearly and painstakingly well researched and written in a logical and chronological method. There are also 8 pages of colour photos, not just pictures of victims and killers, but a mix of these, crime scene photos, appeal photos and press and appeal releases. TTCE was also refreshed and interested to read the introduction to this book, which details aspects of Scottish law and the aspects in which it can differ greatly from English law. For a book to hold one’s attention it has to flow well and hold interest, and this does so effortlessly. Perhaps the best testament to the faith shown in this book is by the foreword being written by celebrated and successful Scottish crime writer Val Mcdermid. If TTCE has only but one gripe, it is that this to date remains the only book written by Jean Mclennan. Hopefully, this will be the first of many.

The True Crime Enthusiast



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