Slow Death by Quicksilver
My review -
Charles Murray, the Laird of Letho, is visiting an old university friend who's struggling to cope after his young wife's death in childbirth. The child was lost, too, and Murray is on a protracted visit to attempt to cheer his friend. While he's there, one of the villagers, a particularly unpleasant old chap, is discovered writhing in the throes of a very painful death. He's been found to have drunk whisky laced with a compound of mercury. Murray joins the local sheriff's officer in trying to discover how it happened. It appears that a lot of people had reason to want to be rid of him.
Lexie Conyngham has created a character in Murray who is at once a darned good man and also someone who thinks some of the slightly unworthy things we ourselves are thinking. He's not goody-goody, but human. His young servant-in-training, Walter, is another lovable character, though in some circumstances quite useless. He we find his strengths. Murray persistently picks apart the details of the death, as further bodies turn up. The author beautifully depicts the structure of a village at that time, with the local landowner and his ‘quality’ friends entertaining one another while most of the villagers carry on the work that keeps the place going. The very old, unable to work, spend their time sitting by the window minding other people’s business. It's a great historical whodunit and I enjoyed this latest Murray story just as much as I expected to.