EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Slaughter of Leith Hall

by Gurpreet Sihat

But it would be a while yet before they could eat. While the gentlemen were settled with hot food and plenty of drink, the servants stood about, each near their master’s chair, ready to attend, waiting their turn, stomachs wrenching at the fine smells coming from the masters’ table.

After a while – and maybe faster than it should have, for Mayen was generous with his wine – the conversation amongst the gentlemen grew louder, the laughter less controlled, and when Mrs. Abernethy went to kiss her husband good night and retire from the company, the servants were able to step back a bit and gossip, too. As John Leith had been given a seat near the top of the table, close to his friend Abernethy, Charlie found himself next to Abernethy’s own majordomo.

‘Aye, three centuries, so I’m told,’ said Mayen’s man, a whiskery, wrinkled body by the name of Pringle. His hair was so thick and straight that it stuck out of the loop of ribbon on the back of his head like a paintbrush. ‘King David came into the matter, you ken.’

Charlie, more interested in when he might get his own dinner, was hazy about history.

The only King David he had heard of was the one in the Bible. His eyes widened, impressed.

Pringle nodded. ‘And like to be here three centuries or more to come, too,’ he added in satisfaction. ‘The master and the lady have nine bairns between them, and another on the way.’

‘Aye,’ said Charlie, feeling the need to stand up for Leith Hall. ‘My master’s got the three. And all boys.’

‘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.

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.

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In association with Love Books Tours
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