Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Encounter on a road - Leopardkill

Tirenne dismounted, looking from one man to the other. “Sergeant Lock.” he said at last. “And you are?”
The sergeant gave Lock a wide-eyed glance, “Daniels, your honour.”
Tirenne inclined his head in acknowledgement, “Sergeant Daniels, I must speak with your officer.”
“Er,” Daniels muttered, “Lieutenant Oakes is up the hill somewhere, sir. Won’t I do?”
“Strictly speaking, no.”
“What Lieutenant Tirenne is trying to say, Daniels,” Lock said, “is you don’t have enough clout.”
Tirenne gave a sigh. “Sergeant Lock and I are old...acquaintances,” he explained to the bewildered Daniels. “What he means is that it is simply a matter of protocol.”
Daniels went away grumbling. Tirenne followed Lock to where Michelot’s body lay, scarlet stain spread across the centre of his chest, and stared impassively at his dead commander.
“He was utterly determined you should die.”
“Serve him right for bashing me over the head.” Lock looked down at the body, “I gave him the ounce of lead he wouldn’t spare my mule,” he said flippantly.
“Now he’s leopardkill,” Tirenne murmured.
“Sorry, sir?”
“Thinking out loud, sergeant.” Tirenne pulled a face, “I warned him.”
“Of what?” Lock stooped over the fallen colonel: the bastard must have money hidden somewhere. He tried a coat pocket without success.
“That you were difficult... He refused to listen.” Tirenne paused, “But I will not condone looting any of the dead.”
“He owes me,” Lock said, “for the mule.” Reaching into Michelot’s sabretache he caught hold of something deep within its pockets: a medallion. He glanced up at Tirenne and saw the Frenchman’s decoration was missing, tunic torn over his heart where the pin was ripped out. “You weren’t in the charge!”
The Frenchman frowned, “I...refused. I disobeyed.” He grimaced, “No doubt I shall be called to account for my actions.” Tirenne gestured at the enamelled medal in Lock’s hand, “An English officer will pay handsomely for such a trophy.”
Lock got to his feet. Taking the Frenchman’s left hand he pressed the medallion to his palm, squeezing so hard the decoration’s clasp dug in. “I never heard of awards given to cowards, lieutenant,” he said quietly. He glanced at the cicatrice across Tirenne’s cheek, “And those stitches need to come out.”

from "Leopardkill" by Jonathan Hopkins

Buy your copy on Amazon or at a bookshop

Product Description

A thrilling war novel set against the dramatic backdrop of the Peninsular War that saw a small British force pitched against Napoleon’s Grande Armee.

It is Autumn 1808. The French army is gone from Portugal...except for one man. And what he has stolen is deadly secret.

Sergeant Joshua Lock and Captain the Honourable John Killen pursue the spy deep into Spain ahead of Sir John Moore’s British army - a force now ordered to fight the French alongside native troops. But instead of helping their new allies, the Spaniards seem to have turned against them.

Their quarry still free, Killen’s discovery of Lock’s affair with a fellow officer’s wife drives the childhood friends apart as savage winter storms grip the Galician mountains. With discipline breaking down, and Spain’s armies in disarray, every man must decide for himself - who is friend and who is foe? Should the outnumbered, starving British stand and fight, or run for the sea, and home?

Whilst unbeknown to the bickering allies, Bonaparte himself is storming through Spain with but a single destroy every ‘mangy English leopard.’

Meticulously researched to be historically and militarily accurate, this dashing novel of cavalrymen at war is written by an expert horseman.

About the Author
Jonathan Hopkins has worked in occupations as diverse as bulk tanker loader and kitchen designer, but since 2001 has fitted and repaired saddles professionally.
A lifelong horse-keeper and long term chair of an affiliated riding club close to his home in South Wales, his interest in the cavalrymen who served under the Duke of Wellington originally grew out of research into saddlery worn by troop horses, for which there are no surviving patterns.
Leopardkill is his second published novel.

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