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  • Title: The Slaughter of Leith Hall
  • Author: Lexie Conyngham
  • Publisher: The Kellas Cat Press
  • Publication Date: 17th February 2020

Copy received from blog tour organiser for review purposes.

Description:

‘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.

My Thoughts:

This is the first of Lexie Conyngham’s books that I’ve read and it won’t be the last.
Rich in historic detail, Conyngham weaves a tale that captures the reader’s imagination and you cannot help but become invested in the lives of the characters. Taking time to create a solid foundation for the story, readers are gently eased into the tale and details are built up to give a clear picture of the characters and the background before turning into a page turner that has the reader gripped by the twists and turns, wanting to find out what happens next, the whys and the hows.

The character list at the beginning of the book is great, it helps readers keep track of who everyone is and can act as a quick memory aid if you get lost momentarily.
What really stood out for me was the level of detail that the author has included in her work, she takes great care to evoke vivid images of the settings and period, which I found made me want to research various things and find out more.

If you’re looking for a new historical fiction author, I would highly recommend checking out the other books by Lexie Conyngham, I certainly will be!

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Today I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Jackie Baldwin’s latest novel, Perfect Dead.  It’s an honour to be part of the buzz around publication and even more of an honour to share an extract with you from the book.  Before you get the chance to have a sneaky look at chapter one, lets find out a little more about the book.

 

Description:

Perfect Dead - high-res - Copy (1)

Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.

Ex-priest, DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?

The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective,’ a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.

And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…

 

Extract – from chapter one:

 

7th January 2013

DI Frank Farrell glanced across at Mhairi as the police car slid and bumped its way along an icy farm track towards a small stonewashed cottage. It was 10.10 a.m. and the sky was bright with a pale wintery sun. A young police officer who worked out of Kirkcudbright stood in front of the blue and white tape and walked towards them as they parked alongside the SOCO van.

Farrell exited the car with a feeling of dread in his stomach. In his time as a practising Catholic priest, suicides, in particular, always had a profound effect on him. The thought that someone might be driven to die at their own hand was unfathomable.

‘SOCO nearly done in there, PC McGhie?’

‘Yes, sir, they reckon it’s fairly cut and dried. The police surgeon is in there too. Didn’t exactly have to look for a pulse. Blood and brains everywhere.’

Farrell quelled him with a look.

‘Do we know the name of the deceased yet?’

‘Monro Stevenson, according to the opened mail, sir.’

Silently, Mhairi and Farrell suited up in their protective plastic coveralls and overshoes. Even if it was suicide, care had to be taken not to contaminate the scene, just in case.

‘Right, let’s get this over with,’ said Farrell.

He opened the door and entered with Mhairi.

A middle-aged man in a tweed jacket and cords was packing away his stethoscope in a brown leather satchel in the hall. He straightened up as they approached. Farrell noticed that he had an unhealthy greyish tinge to his face and that his hands were shaking.

‘Morning, Doctor. DI Farrell and DC McLeod.’

‘Dr Allison. Cause appears to be suicide. A terrible business,’ he said. ‘A patient of mine, as it turns out. He was only twenty-seven.’

‘It must be difficult when you know the deceased,’ said Mhairi.

‘Yes, if only he had come to me. I could have got him some help. Anything to avoid this,’ he said, gesturing towards the other room.

‘Any chance you can give us an indication of the time of death?’ asked Farrell.

‘Well, as you know, my role here is restricted to pronouncing life extinct. However, given that rigor is at its peak, I would hazard a guess, strictly off the record, that he died somewhere around fifteen hours ago. However, you’ll need to wait for the preliminary findings from the pathologist for any degree of certainty.’

‘Thanks, Doctor,’ said Farrell. ‘I appreciate the heads-up.’

The doctor turned to leave. Farrell approached the two experienced Scene of Crime officers, Janet White and Phil Tait, who were gathering their stuff together at the rear of the hall.

‘Janet, what have you got for us?’

‘It looks like a suicide,’ she said. ‘Gun placed in the mouth and trigger pulled. We lifted prints from the gun. Gunshot residue on the right hand of the deceased matches that scenario.’

‘There’s a note,’ Phil said. ‘It’s in a sealed envelope. We’ll get you a copy once we’ve done the necessary checks back at the station. We’ve also removed the gun for ballistics analysis.’

‘What was it?’

‘A PPK 380 mm. We recovered the bullet from the wall behind the chair.’

‘How on earth did he get hold of one of those in this neck of the woods?’

‘Your guess is as good as mine,’ shrugged Phil.

‘A suicide note,’ said Mhairi. ‘That means it’s unlikely to be a murder?’

‘Unless he was coerced, or it was staged,’ said Farrell.

I don’t know about you, but that has me really keen to read more!

 

 

About the Author:

Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist which is where her novels are set. Married, with two grown up children, she has filled her empty nest with Golden Retrievers. She can often be found in a forest walking the dogs, covered in mud and with twigs in her hair.

Perfect Dead Blog Tour graphic final

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