Dundee in the nineteenth century was a very dangerous place. 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 1820s and an epidemic of thieving in the 1860s. 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.
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.
Author Malcolm Archibald was the winner of the 2005 Dundee Book Prize. This latest book came about from his Masters dissertation in history and includes original and new research about the story of crime in Dundee, written in a vibrant and accessible style.