By Tom Wood, former Deputy Chief Constable, Lothian & Borders Police

If any man was destined for a life at sea, it was Peter Ritchie. Born on January 2, 1949 into an old Musselburgh fishing family, his future seemed preordained. Yet while salt water ran in his veins, Peter went on to become a fine police detective and a prolific writer.

A true lad o’ pairts, he was also an accomplished artist, poet and playwright. Driven to fill every waking minute, Peter volunteered at his local museum and hospice, and actively supported his heart’s desire: Scottish independence.

The restless energy that defined his life showed itself early when he left school as early as possible, desperate to follow his family tradition in fishing off Scotland’s east coast.

On his last day in the tender care of St Columba's Hospice, he was writing a new play. . . set in a hospice

For the next decade Peter worked on his family’s boats, the Brighter Dawn, the Bon Aventure and many others, becoming one of the youngest qualified skippers in the fleet. The long days and nights at sea kindled his lifelong love of nature and of Scotland’s wild places.

But in 1974, he could see the future decline of inshore fishing and, newly married, he came ashore to follow another ambition, the police service.

Joining Lothian & Peebles Constabulary was a cultural and financial shock, his police wage was half he earned at sea, but his prospects were bright.

East Lothian Courier: Peter Ritchie as a younger manPeter Ritchie as a younger man

Peter soon found himself as a detective in the CID. He was a natural, with a sharp mind, shrewd judgement and meticulous attention to detail.

It was just as well, for in the 1980s he was immersed in the hunt for the serial killers that stalked Scotland’s Central Belt in that decade.

Promotions came quickly but the domestic scene could not contain his restless spirit, and posts as the head of the Organised Crime Unit in the National Criminal Intelligence Service in London, and later as UK liaison officer to Europol in The Hague were filled with distinction in senior rank.

Life after the police continued at a hectic pace when Peter took up writing as a new passion.

Always a good communicator, he found a niche in the competitive field of crime fiction and Tartan Noir.

Based firmly on his own experience, the six volumes of the Detective Grace Macallan series brought fiction as close to fact as possible. Plays, poems and poetry completed his prodigious output.

But anchoring this energetic spirit was a family that staunchly supported him.

East Lothian Courier: Peter Ritchie, author, police detective 1 PIC BY Jim Mackintosh


Agnes, his wife of nearly 50 years and his much-loved children, Wee Peter and Claire, gave him the foundation of stability he needed. Latterly his young grandchildren, Nancy and Angus, were the loves of his life.

When diagnosed with a terminal illness, Peter took the news with grace and quiet courage. His only regret was leaving his family.

On his last day in the tender care of St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh he was writing a new play. . . set in a hospice. To the last he was pushing forward.

Peter Ritchie (January 2, 1949 - December 3, 2021): fisherman, detective, writer, artist, poet and playwright. Scottish lad o’ pairts.