New book revisits one of Scotland's most famous crimes

A new book to be published later this month is set to delve into one of Scotland’s most famous and salacious crimes.

By Morag Kuc
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:10 pm
Sheila Garvie: Mastermind or Victim is out later this month.
Sheila Garvie: Mastermind or Victim is out later this month.

Sheila Garvie: Mastermind or Victim by A.M. Nicol, who was a Procurator Fiscal Depute for 12 years, provides a meticulous reconstruction of the trial in 1968 of Sheila Garvie and others for the murder of her husband Max at the family home near Laurencekirk.

A mesmerised nation avidly followed as national and local papers daily reported on yet more salacious details including nudist weekends, sex orgies, wife swapping, unnatural sexual demands, bitter ex-mistresses, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, fast cars, private aeroplanes and local ‘aristocracy’ that seemed to suggest that ‘the swinging Sixties’ had finally arrived even in North East Scotland.

Press coverage of a kind that would not be allowed nowadays portrayed Sheila Garvie as a modern-day Lady Macbeth, the ruthless mastermind driving events, while using new cheque book journalism to prejudice the outcome.

The new book looks at one murder – but three versions of the story.

The narrative seeks to uncover, as far as it can, the truth regarding Sheila’s involvement in her husband’s death. Including flashbacks and new theories, the book suggests that appearances can be deceiving and reveals the shortcomings of a system uncaring about abuse victims. Through the point of view of several characters involved in the case, the narrative is made dynamic and gripping, and Sheila is revealed to be deeply flawed, but also deeply human.

With the forensic analysis he applied to cases he was involved in, Allan Nicol brings Sheila Garvie’s trial alive again and allows those who remember it to gain a more balanced perspective to the circumstances she found herself in. It also enables those who are too young to remember it to form their own opinion on the choices she made and the treatment she received at the hands of the press at the time.

Sheila Garvie:Mastermind or Victim is out on June 22. It can be pre-ordered before then from the Ringwood Publishing website. Thereafter the paperback book and the ebook will be available to purchase from Ringwood and all the normal outlets, for £9.99.