On a hillside near Ballachulish in the Scottish Highlands in May 1752 a rider is assassinated by a gunman. The murderedman is Colin Campbell, a government agent travelling to nearby Duror where he’s evicting farm tenants to make way forhis relatives. Campbell’s killer evades capture, but Britain’s rulers insist this challenge to their authority must result in ahanging. The sacrificial victim is James Stewart, who is organising resistance to Campbell’s takeover of lands long heldby his clan, the Appin Stewarts.James is a veteran of the Highland uprising crushed in April 1746 at Culloden. In Duror he sees homes torched by troopsusing terror tactics against rebel Highlanders. The same brutal response to dissent means that James’s corpse will foryears hang from a towering gibbet and leave a community utterly ravaged.