Add to Cart Add to Cart. Add to Wishlist Add to Wishlist. The second book in the Mendick Mystery Series. Following "The Darkest Walk", when Sergeant Mendick is sent to Dundee to collect a prisoner, he expects a speedy return to London but instead an unfortunate turn of events see him retained to help solve a particularly gruesome murder. Within days Mendick finds himself leading the hunt for the mysterious China Jim who appears to control the criminal classes of Dundee through fear.
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Mendick's investigations take him from the curling rinks to the foul closes of the disregarded poor, and the bed of the enigmatic Johanna Lednock. More deaths follow and suspicion falls on a handful of men the elite of Dundee society, including Johanna's husband and Mr Gilbride, a local ship owner. Their crime may even have been worse than petty theft, for they unmoored a rescue boat at Magdalen Point in the River Tay. Putting lives at stake seemed less important than stealing in a society based on property and ownership.
The definition of crime with regard to juveniles may not have altered, but the weight behind the different crimes certainly has.
Drink was often seen as the harbinger of crime, just as drugs are today. In February the Dundee Police Commission issued the following statement:. Mind you, he may have had a point: in the town had one pub for every people, not to mention the hidden shebeens, the unlicensed drinking houses that sold raw whisky straight from the glens.
These drinking dens were often home to prostitutes and petty thieves, but usually just to the unfortunate, the desperate or the tragic. Mags Gow was one of the latter, a Dundee fishwife who could not refrain from over indulging.
Was she a criminal? She certainly had a long criminal record. She appeared in court over times for drunkenness and ended up in the lunatic wing of the poorhouse. Mags was only one of a whole raft of Scottish women who fell foul of the law. There is sometimes a perception that 19 th century women were shielded from the world, meek, and prone to swooning. I do not know from where these ideas originate, but they were certainly not true for Scotland. After being married to a Scotswoman for upwards of thirty years, and having brought up two Scottish daughters, I can say that meekness is not one of their defining attributes.
Honesty, integrity, loyalty and forthrightness: yes, but never meekness. The same was true in the 19 th century.
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There were also the female criminals who were often even more deadly than the male. Some crimes of the 19 th century can only raise a smile of disbelief today, such as the case in October when Catherine Luckie of Dundee who was charged with having 20 hens and 14 pigs in her one roomed house. The opinions of her neighbours were not noted. Other cases are as familiar today as they were then: shoplifting was as much a plague in the s as it is in the early 21 st century, and although the methods might not change, the equipment did.
A substantial search uncovered that ten of the workers had been smuggling out marmalade and jam under their crinolines.
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Not surprisingly, that article of clothing was subsequently banned from the building. The court rooms of Dundee and Edinburgh were often packed with intransigent women who could respond to their sentences with a mouthful of abuse and whose watchwords were defiance and contempt. Their sisters-in-crime can be seen today, in the same court and often for the same reasons. Women then, were heavily involved in the cornucopia of crime that flavoured the 19 th century.
It was a fascinating period where the old pre-industrial age splintered before the clattering onrush of the machine, where masses of people adapted to new living conditions in crowded cities and where the poor struggled to survive by any means they could, on either side of a law that often seemed weighed to the advantage of the rich. The crime of that century may be coloured with rosy tints, or monochrome through antique prints, but to the victims who suffered by it, crime was as sordid and ugly then as it is now.
Perhaps if we were to don the boots and endure the darkest walk of the 19 th century, the reality of life and crime would be revealed to us. As it is, we may only seek to bring the colour, romance and scalp-scratching atmosphere of the period to life through words and created images.
the darkest walk detective mendick victorian crime Manual
That is the job of the writer. Malcolm Archibald is the author of 19 books including:. Ever since the Circuit judge Lord Cockburn branded the city 'A Sink of Atrocity' in his "Memoirs", the image of old Dundee has been one of poverty and crime - but what was it really like to live in the streets and closes of Dundee at that time?
In "A Sink of Atrocity", Malcolm Archibald reveals the real nineteenth century Dundee and the ordinary and extraordinary crimes that took place. As well as the usual domestic violence, fighting and robberies, Dundee was also beset with a catalogue of different crimes during the century.
There were the Bodysnatchers and Resurrection men who caused much panic in the s and an epidemic of thieving in the s. There were gang crimes, infamous murders and an astonishing outbreak of crimes committed by women, as well as the highly unusual theft of a whale at sea. Poverty and drink played their part and up against this tidal wave of crime stood men like Patrick Mackay, one of Dundee's Messengers-at-Arms, who was responsible for apprehending criminals before the advent of the police.
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It was not an easy job but those who were caught faced the full force of the law, from fines to jail and from transportation to hanging, as the authorities fought to bring law and order to Dundee. Disturbing new evidence suggests the Chartist movement is seeking violent action after years of oppression.
With the spectre of civil war looming, Mendick goes undercover, but his loyalties start to waver when his sympathies are awoken by the plight of the working classes and the beautiful and enigmatic Chartist, Rachel Scott. Soon, Mendick discovers there is more to the case than he has been led to believe and that unravelling this darkest walk of crime will be a matter of life or death. Visit Mr. Newer Post Older Post Home.
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