Murder Most Criminous (volume 1): resurrecting the father of true crime writing

March 16, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

The father of modern true crime writing is back.

William Roughead, the Scottish barrister who attended and reported on every major British murder trial for nearly six decades and wrote about each of them in detailed and yet interesting accounts, is returning from obscurity. Roughead died in 1952 but not before he built a huge following for his work both in America and Great Britain.

His name and work, unfortunately, have fallen into obscurity. First Inning Press is bringing him back to life.

Murder Most Criminous: The Cases of William Roughead, Father of Modern True Crime Literature (Volume 1) has just been published. It is the first of several anticipated volumes of Roughead’s work. The editors, Jim Stovall and Ed Caudill, have worked not only to reproduce this great writer’s work but also to give it new life for modern audiences.

In addition to attending the trials of his day, Roughead was a lawyer in Edinburgh with an active practice and raised a family. Not only did he attend trials, but he also did meticulous research on famous trials that had happened before he was born.

He wrote about many of these trials in local Scottish journals. As he did so, his audience grew, and his accounts became popular on both sides of the Atlantic. By the 1930s he had a large and enthusiastic following, readers who included Alexander Woollcott and Franklin Roosevelt.

This new series features some of his best and most famous cases, including the trial of Oscar Slater, scheduled for Volume 2, in which he teams up with Arthur Conan Doyle to free a man who was falsely convicted of murder.

The first volume of this series includes four of Roughead’s cases, all from a time before he was able to attend their trials. They include “Mackcoull and the Begbie Mystery,” “The Secret of Ireland’s Eye: A Detective Story,” “The Ghost of Sergeant Davies,” and “The Parson of Spott.” Each case has unique features that Roughead interprets with his unique and fascinating writing style.

“We have done a lot of work with editing these cases and trying to make them presentable to modern readers,” Stovall said.

“We have introduced some typographical innovations that include footnotes, more readable paragraphing, and subheads—all of which we believe will aid the reader. The essential Roughead is still there, and we believe the reader will be captured by his exquisite phrasing and point of view.”

During March and April, the first volume of this series is being offered to readers at a special ebook price of $1.99. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other ebook platforms. Paperback and hardback editions of this work are also available.

Volume 2 in this series, which will include the Oscar Slater case, is due out later this spring.


Group giveaways

Murder Most Criminous is part of a group giveaway, Your Lucky Day, facilitated by The giveaway includes more than 35 books of all genres. You can download any or all of them in exchange for your email address. The email address will be shared among all authors participating in the giveaway. The purpose of these giveaways is to get books into the hands of readers and to increase email lists for the authors. The link for this giveaway, which runs from March 17-31 is

Kill the Quarterback is part of another group giveaway, Ominous Omens, which runs from March 15-29. This giveaway is exclusively for mysteries and thrillers. The link for this giveaway is

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