Blood & Sugar is the thrilling debut historical crime novel from Laura Shepherd-Robinson.
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 . . .
From the moment I saw the cover of Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Blood & Sugar I knew I wanted to read this book and I became even more intrigued when I read the blurb. This is a novel that I really wanted to savour as I was reading, as Laura’s writing was so utterly immersive and it brought to life the sounds, smells and the people of London in the 1780s. There are so many brilliant descriptive phrases in this book which added depth and colour to the landscape that Laura was writing about. She is a very talented writer, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
We are taken back to a dark time in British history, at the height of the slave trade which is fuelling Britain’s trading empire, as well as many other countries across Europe. The book opens with the discovery of a body on Deptford’s docks; the man who has been found murdered is Thaddeus Archer, who was firmly against the slave trade. Captain Harry Corsham is determined to find out who killed him, and as his own investigations deepen; he discovers some alarming and uncomfortable truths directly linked to the slave trade.
As Laura stripped back the layers of this brutal time period in our country’s history, I did get a sense of the horror the slaves faced, Laura handles this sensitively without, however, shying away from the brutality. I really liked Harry Corsham, who was a protagonist I rooted for from the beginning. During his investigations, he certainly gets on the wrong side of several powerful people in Deptford, and you get a real sense of him sailing closer and closer to danger and threatening his own security and interests, which is what made this read so riveting.
With untrustworthy and barbarous characters and an utterly compelling plot with wonderful atmospheric writing, Blood & Sugar is a strong debut from Laura Shepherd-Robinson. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for her next book. I highly recommend this read. Thank you to Rosie Wilson at Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of the book to review.
Publication date: 24th January 2019
Print length: 448 pages