As the nights grow longer in the depths of a Scottish winter, Robert Young, Captain Travers, their families and friends chase the darkness away as they gather to celebrate a joyful engagement. But grim news cast a pall over the happy atmosphere.
A sobbing woman has carried the body of a child into the headquarters of Edinburgh’s Town Guard. In her hand she still clutches a bloody dagger.
What at first was thought to be no more than a domestic tragedy soon becomes a hunt for a cold blooded killer who runs the worst possible sort of brothel.
Robert Young faces a race against time to find the guilty and save other children from the same fate.
His investigation will bring him face to face with his deadliest and most ruthless adversary to date and leave him fighting for his life!
Robert Young shifted his weight slightly onto his rear foot as he took up the en-guarde position as he stared along the length of his rapier blade towards the unblinking eyes of the handsome young man before him. Neither spoke but watched with all their concentration for the smallest opening in their opponents defence. With a half step forward Robert flicked aside the man’s blade and forced him back a step but instantly his blade came back in a flurry forcing Robert to parry first one attack and then another as he gave ground steadily before the assault. With sweat stinging his eyes Robert realised that this young man was his superior in fencing and was forced to try an attack of his own. From the high guard position Robert jumped forward into a desperate lunge which the man only avoided by twisting to the side and retreated several steps.
“Nearly Mr. Young” he said with a thin smile. “But not quite near enough I fear. Now I think it is time for me to show you how to do it properly”. With his rapier flicking back and forth in the quarter guard he began once more to advance on Robert whose own blade could only parry each move towards him as he once again was forced to retreat before the relentless attack. Despite his clear advantage the man did not press forward to deliver the coup de main and after forcing Robert back until he was almost pressed against the wall of the large empty room where they fought he broke off and walked away leaving his back defenseless as though daring Robert to strike at him.
Wiping the sweat from his face with his left sleeve Robert gulped down several breaths and slowly followed the man who now stood in the centre of the room with the mocking blade slowly weaving a figure eight in the air before them. Robert could feel himself tiring already and knew that if he intended to win he had to do something soon. His opponent was simply toying with him and both men knew it was only a matter of time before the man swept past his defences and delivered the final blow. Silently damning the man Robert drew to a halt just beyond striking distance and brought his blade back into the en-guarde as he took up the stance once more with his left hand folded into the small of his back.
His opponent was his equal in height and build being six foot tall with a slim athletic figure and with the same long dark hair they would have been difficult to tell apart from a distance. Only the flat grey eyes of the man in comparison to the warm dark brown of Robert’s set them apart. Both men were in their late twenties and were even dressed the same in loose white shirts, black britches and stockings. The other outward sign was that while Robert was sweating with exertion the other looked as fresh as someone who had just spent the last five minutes reading a book and not desperately trying to avoid being struck with the blade of a rapier.
Forcing himself to smile confidently Robert held his blade before him as he tried to relax his aching wrist and forearm. “En-guarde” he said quietly as the blades kissed as lightly as nervous lovers for the first time.
Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.
He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spends most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.
Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history he always find himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.
He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.