The Murder Tree Trail

The Murder Tree is a psychological thriller that is set in Glasgow in 2010. While this present day story is a work of fiction, the writer has based it on the historical murder of Jess MacPherson in July 1862.

This page encourages the curious reader to examine for themselves the locations that Alan Veale has used for his novel. These places are worthy of a visit in their own right (where practical), but here you can find out how they came to serve as inspiration for the writer.

Follow the characters of Chrissie and Billie as they tackle the mystery that is the legacy of Jessie McLachlan and Old James Fleming...


Our starting point features in Chapter Seven, with Chrissie Fersen meeting librarian Billie Vane by the Victorian fountain on a wet Glasgow morning. Taking shelter inside, and with the benefit of a cup of tea in the fabulous Winter Gardens, Chrissie is first introduced to the story of The Two Jessie's. Billie describes the murder scene to her, along with the reasons that created so much doubt over the conviction of Jessie McLachlan.


The original High Court where Jessie was tried and convicted was at Jail Square, now occupied by the present Court buildings opposite the McLennan Arch and the entrance to Glasgow Green. Billie and Chrissie often met up near here to discuss their progress on Jessie's 'case'.


Chapter Ten of The Murder Tree takes us to the Broomielaw, and the site of the tenement house where Jessie lived. In this chapter you can trace the unfortunate woman's footsteps on the night of the murder. To do the same, head west with the river on your left, and then turn up Washington Street. Climb the steps at the end of the road and head toward the traffic lights to your left. This is where Argyle Street meets North Street under the motorway flyover, and where Jessie continued toward her fate at around 10pm on 4 July 1862.


Our fictional heroine Chrissie stays at The Hilton during her time in Glasgow. Her executive suite on the twentieth floor commands an excellent view over the City, but it is to be the scene of several ghostly encounters that will endanger her life. Hardly surprising, as the Hilton was actually built on the site of a graveyard - the last resting place of Old James Fleming, who was also a prime murder suspect. (Please note that the current layout of the ground floor has been upgraded since 2010, the time at which 'The Murder Tree' is set.)


Chapter Five is the starting point for Chrissie's adventures in Glasgow. Her brother Edward introduces her to his favourite venue for a traditional 'afternoon tea'. It is while sampling the excellent fare on offer at the famous first floor tea rooms that Chrissie notices a man showing interest in the work of designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh on the ground floor below. That man will later feature heavily in her quest to discover the truth about her ancestor.


Only a short walk westwards along Sauchiehall Street Chrissie finds herself outside an address that will impact heavily on her life - and possibly lead to her death... This is the house where Jess MacPherson was cruelly murdered in 1862, and where her body lay in the front basement room that can be clearly seen from street level today. The real owners are marine logistics experts Henry Abram & Sons, while the fictitious David Abram has plenty of surprises awaiting our heroine behind the heavy black door at the top of the steps.


Turn back eastwards along Sauchiehall Street and then take a right onto Elderslie Street. Billie takes Chrissie here in Chapter Ten, pausing to examine the scene to the rear of 17 Sandyford Place as described by witnesses during Jessie's trial. They then continue on to Berkeley Street and the back entrance to The Mitchell. This massive building is arguably the cornerstone of The Murder Tree. It is Billie's place of work. It is the source of some very important answers for Chrissie, and it is a convenient watering hole for the villain of the piece. Above all, The Mitchell has been the most important source of research for Alan Veale, author of The Murder Tree.

Click here to download the above The Murder Tree Trail Leaflet (.pdf)