The Slaughter of Leith Hall by Lexie Conyngham
I am delighted to be taking part in the launch tour run by Love Books Tour @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours for the fabulous new novel by Lexie Conyngham, The Slaughter of Leith Hall. Enjoy the tour.
‘See, Charlie, it might be near twenty year since Culloden, but there’s plenty hard feelings still amongst the Jacobites, and no so far under the skin, ken?’
Charlie Rob has never thought of politics, nor strayed far from his Aberdeenshire birthplace. But when John Leith of Leith Hall takes him under his wing, his life changes completely. Soon he is far from home, dealing with conspiracy and murder, and lost in a desperate hunt for justice.
‘He’d be better of a few draughts of that strong wine, I reckon,’ Lang Tam remarked judiciously. The gentlemen, too far away to hear Lang Tam, burst out laughing nevertheless as Keracher was reduced to seizing the pistol butt in both hands, squinting along the swinging barrel. He snatched at the trigger as though plucking a fiddle string, and a bottle three yards to the left of the one he was supposed to hit wobbled slightly. The gentlemen cheered, and Lang Tam sighed.
‘Aye, well: at least I ken never to put money on him.’ He rubbed at his scrawny upper arms. ‘Think they’ll be much longer? I haven’t felt my feet this last hour.’
‘Another round at least, I’d say,’ said Charlie, glad to be asked his opinion. Gentlemen assumed that if they were friendly with each other, their servants would enjoy time spent in each other’s company, too. It was not always so, but Tam always seemed happy to see Charlie. ‘That’s both of Mr. Leith’s pistols loaded just now.’ Lang Tam nodded, and stamped his feet dejectedly.
‘Aye,’ he acknowledged. ‘I’ve just reloaded Mr. Dalgarno’s too.’ He sighed. Charlie had
heard the minister say that a man could not have two masters, but Lang Tam managed it: he
served both Matthew Keracher and his friend, Walter Dalgarno. To Charlie, that gave him a dangerous, even a glamorous, air: a man going against what the kirk said with such ease! ‘And his turn’s at least two away. See them two!’ His voice dropped abruptly, the practised hush of a
servant not wanting his betters to hear his opinions. He made the slightest gesture at the next two gentlemen lined up to shoot. ‘You’d near take them for twins, eh?’ Charlie looked at the two gentlemen, as he realised that Lang Tam’s words were intended sarcastically. Lord Watt was the closer, and to see him you would wonder what he was doing amongst the others, for you could tell straight away that he was a superior being. The very lace at his collar was whiter and stiffer than anyone else’s. The velvet of his coat looked, to Charlie’s eye, freshly brushed, and even his boots shone despite a morning spent outdoors. His perfectly carved profile angled for a moment, turning to see where his servant was with his pistol – Flemish, of course, silverwork glinting, wood so polished it dazzled. Long, pale lids almost concealed his eyes, but he must have been able to see clearly enough, for he turned back, raised the pistol, and
in the same instant it seemed the bottle on the distant branch shattered. Unsmiling, he returned the pistol to his servant, and made a little bow to the next man, allowing him to take to the firing point.
Lexie Conyngham is a historian living in the shadow of the Highlands. Her historical crime novels are born of a life amidst Scotland’s old cities, ancient universities and hidden-away aristocratic estates, but she has written since the day she found out that people were allowed to do such a thing. Beyond teaching and research, her days are spent with wool, wild allotments and a wee bit of whisky.