Posted in Books I have read

The Murder Tree – Alan Veale

Historical Crime 4*'s
Historical Crime

Based upon fact that in 1862 Jessie McLachlan was tried for murder of her friend, another servant also named Jessie McPherson this really is a unique read because this isn’t just a rehash of a crime rewritten for people like me who are fascinated by such things. The Murder Tree is, if anything, more weighted towards Chrissie Ferson and her companion Billy Vane than what really happened that fateful 4 July 1862 in a house in Glasgow.

A great genealogical mystery underpins The Murder Tree with a very determined Chrissie Fersen on the trail in Glasgow determined to find out what links her to the murder of a servant Jessie McPherson, in 1862.

Having suffered a great loss in her life the seemingly tenuous link between her family and the terrible murder that took place at 17 Sandyford Place appears to be just the right kind of focus she needs to take her mind off recent events. Billy Vane a local librarian also needs a distraction in his life and so when wealthy Chrissie meets him with a fantastical tale of ghosts they decide to solve the mystery together.

This book covers the murder, a family mystery twisted by lies both past and present, ghosts along with a smattering of madness and even a surprising smattering of romance all carefully mixed to produce an engaging read. I say carefully mixed as this combination could easily have gone badly awry! I’m not a lover of the supernatural and early on I did wonder if this would undermine the book for me; it didn’t I couldn’t wait to find out, well… everything!

I like books based on true stories and although the author makes it clear that this is a work of fiction the inclusion of some of the statements from the trial added a layer of intrigue for me.

To my delight this author has provided a fantastic The Murder Tree website which is the best example I have come across. This is a great addition to this book with pictures of 17 Sandyford Place, a family tree as well as notes about the author.  In answer to the author’s question posted there, this reader would certainly love to read a second book.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for this honest review.

The Murder Tree Amazon UK

For other examples of Genealogical crime read my previous post that lists some books available in this fascinating genre


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

13 thoughts on “The Murder Tree – Alan Veale

  1. Great to hear you enjoyed it. The original story was recently featured as a BBC television documentary, and it is the first present day airing that Jessie’s story has had in fifty years! If anyone wants to investigate further, then go to Glasgow. I am presently liaising with the GCMB (Glasgow City Marketing Bureau) to produce a ‘Murder Tree Trail’ that will include many of the scenes featured in the book. Book Number Two is also under way!


    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my review. It has made my day! I did see that there had been a television documentary, what a coincidence. It sounds like you have been busy with the trail what a fantastic idea! So glad there is another book in progress too; another book to anticipate reading!


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