DOZENS of brutal and cold-blooded murders from more than a century ago are at the heart of a newly-released book.

True crime writer Jan Bondeson spent more than five years researching and writing his new book, Victorian Murders.

Released at the end of last year by Amberley Publishing, it examines a series of gruesome incidents, with more than 55 murder cases covered.

Among those featured is The Denham Massacre, which took place in 1870. The murder, in the Buckinghamshire village of Denham, focuses on the Marshall family.

Jan, who moved to Dunbar nearly a year ago, said: “The entire family was wiped out and the murderer was a tramp.

“He had a grudge against a local blacksmith, Emmanuel Marshall, who lived in a small cottage with his wife, four children and his sister.

“This tramp came up to the cottage and he murdered the entire lot of them.

“He then dressed in Marshall’s Sunday best and he just walked away and nobody connected this respectfully dressed man with the tramp who came up to the cottage.

“The police tracked him down in a pub and he was hanged.”

The Marshalls’ killer, John Owen, was a former blacksmith and had previously been employed by his victim.

The bodies were discovered by a woman who visited the home. According to the book: “Since there was no response when she knocked on the door, she peeped through a window. She was horrified to find that a bloodbath had occurred: the floor of the cottage was drenched with gore and strewn with children’s corpses.”

Some of the cases covered – such as the Great Bravo Mystery of 1867 and the Llangibby Massacre of 1878 – have become famous, but other little-known cases, such as the Ramsgate Mystery of 1893 and the Acton Atrocity, also feature.

The 56-year-old, who was clinical senior lecturer at Cardiff University, told the Courier he always had an interest in history and writing.

His latest book combines the two and he said: “I have always been interested in history and have a large library about crime and criminals.

“Also, there was no good library anywhere near where I lived and I had to build up a collection myself.

“I have got 8,000 books on the premises and many are about crime and criminals.”

He has already turned his attention to writing about murders in Edinburgh, where he regularly visited while working in the Welsh capital.

But he has no plans to put together anything about murders in his new home county.

He said: “People in East Lothian have always been very law-abiding. They have not gone around murdering each other.”

The book, available in paperback, is on sale for £14.99.