First published by DSP Publications
29 October 2019
Rereleased 7 January 2020
A workaholic teacher and a cranky blacksmith investigate a haunted orphanage in the remote Scottish Borders. What they find together might help them heal the wounds of their pasts… if they survive.
When the charity Leon works for inherits the orphanage, he travels north to see if the site is suitable for a new school. But Vainguard is a place of dark secrets, and Leon unearths a mystery about four children who died there in 1944—a tragic tale with an uncanny connection to the death of Leon’s parents.
Still bitter and guilt-ridden over his daughter’s death, farrier Niall joins Leon in uncovering Vainguard’s cruel history, including not just abuse but a tale about a vengeful spirit preying on local children. As the orphanage’s disturbing past comes to light, another child goes missing.
Niall and Leon know they don’t have long before the child falls victim to a legend straight from the Borders’ blood-soaked past.
“Martyn Armstrong’s dead, Leon.”
I blinked at Felix, wondering if the click of the door closing behind me had drowned out some key words. I said, because it seemed appropriate, “I’m very sorry to hear that. Er, who was he?”
“An old boy,” Felix told me, looking down at the letter in his hand with a faint shake of his head. “A very old boy.”
The news must have come with the morning post—that explained why he hadn’t said a word over breakfast. Or perhaps it had simply been tact. My foster sister Kasia and her sons were spending the first few weeks of the summer holidays at school with us, and Felix, doting grandfather that he was, wouldn’t have wanted to upset them.
I pulled up a chair to his desk and waited for his explanation. I knew better than to rush him—Felix liked his little revelations, even with family and his management team. I might be both, but that didn’t make me exempt.
When he didn’t say anything more, I prompted, “Old boy?”