‘As Joe stood before the house that had belonged to Seumas Mór, he thought of the boy. How had he felt the first day that he travelled that narrow winding road to this remote spot? Wherever he had come from, it couldn’t have been as bleak as this, and how much worse must it be in the winter? The house faced inland, towards a rocky hill, allowing very little light into the rooms at the front. There was no garden, and never had been. Just a house, perched on a scrap of heather and rock-strewn moor, as if it had grown there in defiance of the winds that must batter it endlessly.
The roof was missing slates, and those that had survived were covered in bright yellow lichen. Joe stared up at the top windows. The glass was still intact, but the wood had decayed into rotten splinters that would soon give up their grasp and let the dirty glass fall wherever it might. Had the boy slept in one of those rooms? How had he passed his time? What had Seumas Mór done to him?
Although the front door was lying in the heather, adorned with the droppings of sheep and rabbits, Joe decided against going inside. He told himself he wasn’t entering the house because it may soon be declared a crime scene, if Roberts came up with anything from the passenger lists. Yet he knew, even if there had been no suspicion of a crime, he couldn’t have entered. The smell and the darkness would not let him. His own fears and his memories would not let him. The thought of the lonely abused boy would not let him. ‘
You can buy In the Shadow of the Hill in Waterstones, Inverness; Blackwells, Edinburgh; and many Highland and Island bookshops; or you can:-