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By David Ashton

The 3rd in David Ashton's sequence of McLevy thrillers, A Trick of the sunshine sees McLevy crew up with Arthur Conan Doyle to pursue a ruthless killer. it's 1860 and a accomplice officer, Jonathen Sinclair, arrives in Edinburgh with a sheaf of cash to buy a blockade-runner from Clydeside shipbuilders. he's betrayed to the Union forces and is shot useless via their mystery brokers. who're they and the place is Sinclair's funds? in the meantime, a stunning younger American spiritualist, Sophia Adler, is the toast of upper-class Edinburgh together with her dramatic seances. even if, she may possibly but turn out to be the deadliest lady McLevy and Conan Doyle will ever come across.

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A crouched shape. Too small for a man, too large for an outcast dog. Sinclair lunged with his free hand, the other gripped to his gun, and his clawed fingers found purchase on hair. Human hair. He hauled up, backwards to the faint light and looked into the feral, terrified face of a young boy. ‘Don’t mark me, sir,’ the captive whimpered, face crunched up in pain. ’ Sinclair spoke softly and dragged the boy close by to muffle the exchange, only too aware that more dangerous foes might lurk in the shadows.

Otherwise known as Napoleon at St Helena, it being the pastime with which the defeated Emperor beguiled himself on his last and lonely exile. Magnus enjoyed the idea of himself and the little Corsican reading the tableau and making their plans. The Frenchman dreaming of a lost empire and he on rich pickings in a foreign land. As in many other solitaires, kings were a drawback. Took space, were hard to move. You had to build up foundation from the aces. Royalty gummed up the works. Careful planning.

He hauled up, backwards to the faint light and looked into the feral, terrified face of a young boy. ‘Don’t mark me, sir,’ the captive whimpered, face crunched up in pain. ’ Sinclair spoke softly and dragged the boy close by to muffle the exchange, only too aware that more dangerous foes might lurk in the shadows. ‘Where I sleep,’ replied the other with muted indignation. ’ This pallid show of gumption brought a brief smile to Sinclair’s lips. He chose his words carefully. The Scots valued consonants more than vowels at times and he had mitigated his accent accordingly.

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