........ and a good indicator of official and public attitudes to crime and a good many everyday situations, in Victorian Scotland.
At a time when investigative law officers had nowhere near the scientific aids that those of today do, it was somehow refreshing to read that the accused, against whom the charge could not be "proven" was released; yet also frustrating because most of the
admittedly circumstantial, and sometimes contradictory, evidence had pointed towards this individual, who may well have been convicted had DNA testing for instance been an option.
Those looking for a sensational read -- aside of the circumstances of the crime itself --- would be advised to give it a wide berth.
Inasmuch as he was able -- the victim was an ancestor --- the author has charted an open-minded and fairly non-judgemental course, presenting the evidence as it appeared in police notes and court transcripts; and reprinted some of the more lurid and sensationalist newspaper articles without appearing to be influenced by them.
However, one senses his frustration at the knowledge that no-one will ever be convicted for this offence, nor will the offender ever be named, for this crime which all but destroyed some members of his family.
Factual and somewhat dry, with an insider's knowledge gained from family anecdotes and records. Saddening and depressing too, for emotion can't be altogether erased from this work, which appears to have been somewhat cathartic for the writer.