It’s hard to believe this book is a debut novel, as it is very accomplished. Set in 1781, Blood & Sugar opens with a gruesome scene. An unidentified body hangs from a hook at Deptford Dock, and the man was tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark. The reader soon discovers the dead man is Tad Archer, a passionate abolitionist, who was about to expose a secret that he believed could halt slave trading in Britain, when his sister calls on his old friend, Captain Harry Corsham, saying that Tad was missing, after receiving death threats.
Captain Harry Corsham is the main narrator of the story. He is a man of integrity, a war hero and parliamentary candidate, but in an unhappy relationship with his beautiful wife. Captain Harry throws himself into investigating the case of his murdered friend, even though they had been estranged for some years. He goes to Deptford, the heart of slave trading in Britain at the time, and as he gets closer to the truth, that involves more than 300 slaves deliberately drowned at sea, his life is in very real danger, as is his marriage and political career.
Blood & Sugar is a historical crime thriller that takes the reader back in time to 1781, and what a fabulous book this is. It has many layers, is truly page-turning, and also shines a light on the abhorrent practice of slave trading in this era. It’s well researched, and beautifully written.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99