Friday 30 September 2022

SOLVED - Renee MacRae and her 3 year-old son get justice at last

 SOLVED - ONE OF SCOTLAND'S MOST BAFFLING UNSOLVED MURDER CASES dating back to 1976 has now been solved. 

In September 2022, William MacDowell, who was the man Renee MacRae had been having an affair with and allegedly meeting on the night of her death, was convicted of her murder and the killing of her 3-year-old son Andrew who was also his son. Their bodies have never been found. 

MacDowell who tried to blame the dead woman's husband for her murder, was given a minimum sentence of 30 years. As he's 80 years old, he's expected to die in prison. 

Renee who was described as a devoted mum, left behind an older son. Rennies sister and the police I have called on the callous killer to reveal where the bodies are buried.

Read on if you want to know more about the tragic case- 

The last picture of Renee and little Andrew

Usually when a child goes missing they don't have either of their parents with them. But in the case of the longest open missing persons case In Britain's history, 3-year-old son Andrew was with his mother Renee MacRae when he disappeared along with her, way back in 1976.

Renee was separated from her husband Gordon and dropped her oldest son Gordon who was 9-year-old off at her husband's in Inverness. She was meant to be going to see her sister in Kilmarnock and she was heading that way in her BMW when she was last seen.

The burning car

12 miles away that very same night, a train driver spotted a burning car in an isolated lay-by. It turned out to be Renee MacRae's car.

No trace of either her or the little boy was found. All that police found was a rug stained with blood that was tested and matched MacRae's blood type.

What happened to Renee and little Andrew?

So, how did a car carrying a mother and her child end up on fire and more importantly, where were Renee and little Andrew? Despite an intensive search no trace of either them was ever found.

The Sightings

Witnesses spotted a man dragging what looked like a dead sheep along the road where the mother and child were last spotted driving along. Renee MacRae was wearing a sheepskin coat when she was last seen.

Other witnesses saw a man with a pushchair near the quarry. Could it have been the little boy's?

The Theories

Unbeknown to her husband Renee had been having an affair with a married man called Bill MacDowell who worked for her husband. According to Renee's best friend she'd been going to see him that night and not her sister as she claimed. 

What's more she confided in her friend that wee Andrew was her lover's son. This friend claimed that Renee was planning to start a new life with her lover.

If that was true, Renee never got the chance of happiness. Her little boy never got the chance to enjoy his childhood.

Whatever happened to the pair that night it seems certain that they were murdered. Will their bodies ever be found so they can rest in peace?

Some hope

The man in charge of the search, Detective Sergeant Cathcart was convinced he'd found Renee and Andrew in a quarry after removing the topsoil and being hit with the stench of what he believed to be corpses. He hired a bulldozer, but was ordered to stop digging by a senior officer because the vehicle had to go back to the contractors due to lack of money.

Over twenty years later, the quarry was dug up again but there were no sign of any bodies. Had they been removed? We'll never know.

Could the tragic pair be buried beneath this motorway?

The prime suspect

Bill MacDowell, Renee's lover was the main person of interest. At one stage he went into a police station to make a statement, but was dragged out by his wife.

Had he been about to confess? He denied any involvement in Renee and Andrew's murder.

The prevailing theory appears to be that mother and child were killed and buried under the A9 motorway that was being upgraded. If that is this case, maybe one day future roadworks will give all unearth the tragic pair.

Update -
See "Suspect in MacRae case fled to US

UPDATE - On September 2019 a 77-year-old man later named as William MacDowell was charged with the murders of Renee and little Andrew. MacDowell is allegedly the man Renee was having an affair with and who she was meant to be travelling to meet on the fateful night she went missing. There were rumours he was little Andrew's biological father.

Monday 19 September 2022

"The contrasting viewpoints create a plot that is fast, forceful, and absorbing" - Vile City review from Dot Marshall-Gent

 A new review for Vile City on Promoting Crime

"the writer creates two intriguing characters who often defy readers’ expectations."

Thursday, 15 September 2022

‘Detective in a Coma: Vile City’ by Jennifer Lee Thomson

Published by Diamond Books Ltd,
24 November 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-83840268-6 (PB)

When Detective Sergeant Stevie Campbell is assaulted on duty, he cheats death, but only just, and whilst he languishes in hospital, DS Brian McKeith has taken his place on Detective Inspector Waddell’s team.  McKeith has yet to impress his new boss who is wading through the in-tray from Hell that includes a spate of robberies as well as two missing women. To make matters worse, the new DS has just informed Waddell that another woman has disappeared.  This time, however, there is a witness.  Shelley’s boyfriend was also attacked, and the detectives are hoping that he might be able to give them a lead.

The third person narrative moves primarily between the perspectives of Waddell and Shelley, though other points of view are also related.  This juxtaposition creates an almost cinematographic feel to the story as it flips from the police investigation to the description of the imprisoned woman.  Waddell’s team must first determine whether there is a link between the women who have disappeared. Shelley on the other hand does not wait for the cavalry to arrive and makes a series of valiant attempts to escape her captives.  By foregrounding these two points of view, the writer creates two intriguing characters who often defy readers’ expectations.

The contrasting viewpoints create a plot that is fast, forceful, and absorbing. There are several scenes of brutality and some graphic depictions of sex trafficking, that are hard to read.  Crucially, though, the writer has provided female characters who are combative and resourceful.  There are also moments of poignancy.  For example, when Waddell visits Stevie in hospital he is clearly traumatised to see his erstwhile partner’s condition; sometimes he believes he is conversing with his old pal, and this causes him to doubt his sanity.  Similarly, Shelley’s valiant attempts to escape provoke empathy as well as admiration.

Detective in a Coma: Vile City is a tough Scottish thriller that explores the appalling trade in human beings.  It also examines how resilience and determination can carry us through the worst of times.  If gritty crime is your thing, you’ll enjoy this book.  I did, particularly the deliciously, dark twist at the end.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Jennifer Lee Thomson is an award-winning crime writer who has been scribbling away all her life. She also writes as Jenny Thomson and is an animal and human rights advocate.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

Thanks to Mystery People and Dot Marshall-Gent. You can check out the Mystery People website here

Sunday 18 September 2022

5 things telenovelas can teach you about writing


Kate del Castillo the Queen of telenovelas 
(Photo (c) Netflix)

I came across some telenovelas on Netflix - and now I'm hooked. 

In case you don't know what a telenovela is, it combines the words television and novel for good reason. A telenovela is a serial drama mainly made in Latin America so usually in Spanish. Usually there's a hint of soap opera about them and they are very dramatic. 

My favourites so far have been Ingobernable (starring Kate del Castillo the Queen of telenovelas as the First Lady of Mexico), La Reina del Sur (the English language version is Queen of the South and it's about Teresa Mendoza who goes from grieving woman to drug lord - also played by Kate del Castillo) and The Marked Heart (A woman who's given the heart of a young mother who is murdered for her organs becomes part of her reluctant donor's family life). 

Watching them isn't just entertaining, it's also taught me a few things about writing - 

Telenovelas have lots of "WOW" moments 

1. How to keep people interested by using twists and turns - telenovelas seem to have a twist every 5-minutes. There is never a dull moment. If a telenovela was a book you would never put it down. At least not because you were bored. 

2. Having lots of characters isn't necessarily a bad thing - when it comes to the plot it gives you much more room for manoeuvre. Characters that seem like peripheral ones at the start can be given more of a storyline that can be just as good as the main storyline. Many characters means lots of threads to pull. Lots of subplots. 

Too much telling not showing in dialogue

3. How not to write dialogue - one thing that's very noticeable about telenovelas is the use (or should that be abuse?) of information dumping in dialogue.
Example - "I know that you found the letter in the jewellery box and read it and found out about me stealing the baby from the woman who lived downstairs."

Give your big reveals time to breathe

4. Give your big reveals time to breathe - they don't tend to do this in telenovellas which often means the big "WOW" moment you get is so fast you don't get to savour it. When writing your novel, give readers the chance to think, "WOW, I didn't see that coming" and to react to their surprise and absorb what it means for the story. 

5. Think about the music that would accompany the scenes in your novel - Telenovelas make use of music to illustrate what's happening in the story very well.