Andrew Miller is the author of eight books, each independent, and with a fine sense of historical period. This one begins in 1809, after the debacle at Corunna. Captain John Lacroix returns home to his family, having previously taken the king’s shilling. Something is not right, and his siblings notice how little he has brought with him, and how often he seems to be looking out windows as if pursued, which he is, although it takes a long time to understand what on earth is going on. He leaves home again to take shelter with his favourite sister, but soon leaves her as well to travel up to Glasgow before fleeing to the Hebrides. How it is that he knows he is being tracked by two soldiers (one Spanish, one English) sent under secret orders to capture the errant Lacroix is never entirely clear. But clearly, he is the scapegoat after extremely bad behaviour by his troops. Medina, the Spanish tracker, is prepared to disappear, but has forgotten how dangerous his opposite number is.
Lacroix plans to do his own tracking of Hebridean son, and is carrying a fiddle with him. He tries to get along with people he meets on the way, many of whom have had a much worse time than he has, including one who wears two hooks where his hands ought to be. Lacroix has taken shelter with a family who belong to a kind of evangelical sect; one of the sisters seems to be losing her sight, and he escorts her to a doctor who thinks he can help, back in Glasgow. There Lacroix finds evidence of the Spanish killer, who has blinded a man who hesitated to tell him what he knew. The final pages free him from his trackers–not least because the English one has no qualms about his mission–but leave him with important decisions to be made.
Andrew Miller, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free (Hodder & Stoughton/Sceptre)