The first publication of a novel by the late British writer Charteris, suppressed in 1957 because of possible libel suits, is--if not exactly a celebration of the upper classes--a sympathetic look at an older, still resilient way of life answering only to its own rules. Set in the Scottish Highlands on the Mackean estate, where the new laird, Alan MacKean, is reluctantly following in his legendary father's footsteps, the story begins on the morning of the annual Christmas dance. Alan and his wife Augustine, who have no children of their own, must contend with Duncan, Alan's putative heir and the much beloved nephew of Alan's father. Duncan is a primitive, almost savage man who enjoys blood sports and fighting. He is also, as Alan notes, "unemployable except possibly as a tractor driver." Jealous of Alan and angry that he has not himself already inherited the estate, Duncan is always short of money, and on this day he comes round to ask for a loan to pay his taxes. Duncan's brother-in-law, John, also calls on Alan asking for help with Duncan, who appears to mistreat his wife and John's sister, Mary. Alan tells John how he saved Duncan the year before from imprisonment for poaching, and remarks that Duncan would have him, Alan, "rubbed out" immediately if he could. The dance begins, but only Duncan appears, in full Scottish regalia. Alan, whom he'd arranged to meet earlier near the river, has indeed finally been "rubbed out." A very quiet but no less violent family feud, where all is hinted at and little said or done directly. More an impressionistic picture of the way things are done among the gentry than a developed study of character and incident. Thin.