Award-winning author sets novel in Berwickshire

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A.K. Nairn has launched a historical crime mystery called The Trail of Blood, which is set in the brutal world of the reivers.

The novel marks a homecoming for the Duns-born but London-based adman and business writer, whose marketing book Go Luck Yourself became a multi-awarded best-seller in 2021 and has gone on to be translated in places as far-flung as China and Korea. In contrast, most of the action in The Trail of Blood occurs in the likes of Duns, Coldstream, Swinton, Chirnside, Kelso and Berwick.

The story opens in 1516, when a torso is discovered on an island in the River Tweed. As more bodies pile up, a French diplomat called Antoine de Lissieu is reluctantly dragged in, to prevent yet another war between Scotland and England. A thrilling pursuit follows, with lots of twists and turns. However, while the story is a work of fiction, the hero is loosely based on a real-life Frenchman, Antoine de la Bastie, who truly was given the thankless task of keeping the peace on the border in 1516 – only to be murdered by the locals, soon after.

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“I’ve always been fascinated by the bloody history of our region,” explains the author, who usually goes by plain old Andy Nairn. “In particular, I’ve always thought Antoine was a bit hard done by. So I’ve given him a new identity, reinvented him as a sleuth instead of a victim, and given him some suitably grisly crimes to solve. My hope is to create a unique detective series that will bring the fascinating world of the reivers to a wider audience.”

The Trail of Blood by A.K Nairn is available now, just in time for the common riding season. It can be bought in local bookshops as well as on all the usual online platforms.

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