AN AYRSHIRE author has launched a new book that delves into dark corners of the area's history.

John Kellie, a retired schoolteacher from Prestwick, has previously written Ayrshire Folk and Ayrshire Echoes, both published by Carn Publishing of Auchinleck.

His third book, Hanged Until Dead, tells of 25 cases of crime where the villain ended up executed.

And now his new book, Scottish Villians and Victims, details the 19th-century cases in which where hundreds of Scottish men and women suffered due to the actions of others.

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Those included highwaymen and horse thieves; poisoners and pirates; housebreakers and fire-raisers; wife-beaters and drunks.

Scottish Villains and Victims contains twenty-three of their most gripping stories.

The book covers crimes and sufferings stretching from Dumfries in the south all the way to the far north-west Highlands, as well as most parts of the country in between.

There are several stories in the book from Ayrshire’s murky past, including the break-in at a remote New Cumnock cottage which led to the murder of a shepherd, and the story of Christina Gilmour, from Dunlop, who poisoned her farmer husband.

Also featured are Thomas Ross, a poacher on Bargany estate near Girvan who murdered the estate's gamekeeper, and Robert Watt of Saltcoats, a ship's captain who discovered stowaways on board his vessel.

At Moscow, near Kilmarnock, we also discover more about the murder of Robert Rankin, a crime that has never been solved.

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Many of the characters in the book are followed throughout their life – often ending up in further trouble, or else being transported to Australia on a convict ship.

Some, however, melt into oblivion, and tracking them down seems impossible today.

In a few cases, the murderer remains unidentified, whereas in others, the skill, or in some cases luck, of the police constable or detective has resulted in the villain being captured and punished accordingly.

Most of the cases studied by the author are long forgotten, and, aside from contemporary newspaper reports, many have never previously appeared in print.

The book was launched on April 24 and can be ordered online at and from all good bookshops.