Monday, 27 April 2020

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson @LauraSRobinson @MantleBooks @panmacmillian #BloodAndSugar

June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark.
Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham – a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career – is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. He’d said people were trying to kill him, and now he is missing . . .
To discover what happened to Tad, Harry is forced to pick up the threads of his friend’s investigation, delving into the heart of the conspiracy Tad had unearthed. His investigation will threaten his political prospects, his family’s happiness, and force a reckoning with his past, risking the revelation of secrets that have the power to destroy him.
And that is only if he can survive the mortal dangers awaiting him in Deptford . . .

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson was published in paperback by Mantle Books / Pan Macmillan on 9 January 2020.

I bought myself a copy of this book some months ago, and then I couldn't find it! I searched everywhere, and suspect that one day, a Waterstone's bag will appear in a forgotten corner in my house and inside will be this book!  However, I have wonderful friends, and one of them was kind enough to purchase another copy for me, and send it. Thank you Kate!

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, and I can't remember the last time that I read a historical crime story, so Blood & Sugar is a bit of a genre swap for me.

Beginning in June 1781, in the port of Deptford, London, the prologue sets the scene for what really is an atmospheric and wonderfully written story of intrigue and corruption.
Lawyer and abolitionist, Tad Archer is found dead on the dockside. He's been hung from a hook on a pole in full view of anyone who may be around. This is a brutal and vicious killing of a man who was recently warned to get out of town. His views around the abolition of the slave trade were certainly not welcome in Deptford where the trade is plentiful and worth a lot of money.

Tad's sister is worried when he doesn't return home and contacts Captain Harry Corham to see if he can help.  Tad and Harry were once friends, but haven't been in contact for many years. Tad had always told his sister to contact Harry if anything should happen to him.

Harry is determined to find out what has happened to his friend, it is clear that Tad had stumbled upon some secrets that if exposed, could threaten the whole slave trade in Britain. This is dangerous territory and Harry will soon risk his own political career whilst trying to establish the facts.

Laura Shepherd-Robinson's writing flows beautifully; her descriptions of dirty, grimy Deptford are juxtaposed wonderfully with images of the grandeur of the homes of the upper classes.
Not only is this a compelling and intriguing tale of mystery and deceit, it is also a lesson in the history of the slave trade in this country; something that I knew very little about.

The characters are vivid and compelling, and whilst there are a lot of people to remember within this story, I found that it flowed very well. The plot is intricate and complex, with many strands making up the whole of the plot, at times it feels a little overcrowded, but it is artfully done and very well woven together.

I found Blood & Sugar to be an elegant and evocative read, both intriguing and informative and I will look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Laura Shepherd-Robinson was born in Bristol in 1976. She has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. 

She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.
Author Page on Facebook
Twitter @LauraSRobinson
Instagram @laurashepherdrobinson

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