Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867. The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. 35 years later he retired as Superintendent of the CID at Scotland Yard, the top detective in the country.

It was a career which included railway murderers, grave robbers, fraudulent mediums, Jack the Ripper, the Philosopher’s Stone, shocking revelations about the aristocracy and a crazed captain with sea serpents in a bottle.

His 35-year career spanned a period of great change within the Metropolitan Police and the methods of detection it employed. Perhaps more than anyone, it was he who represented the age of the Victorian detective - joining when Met officers still undertook cutlass training, and retiring as Superintendent of the CID in the early days them using of fingerprint evidence.

A 650-page biography by Adam Wood is scheduled for publication at the end of 2019.


A 140-page abridged paperback edition was produced to coincide with a talk given by Adam in Swanson's hometown of Thurso, and signed copies are now available to purchase at just £10.00 (plus P&P where applicable).

Those who purchase the abridged version will be entitled to a £5 discount on the full edition.

Please choose your delivery option from the menu below:

Collect from Alan McIvor in Thurso (£10.00)

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Deliver to Rest of World (£20.50)