Friday, 1 March 2019

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

With historical crime fiction it's paramount to get the historical facts right, even if the author plays fast and loose with a few details or uses their artistic license. Books in this particular genre often become not only an engrossing read, they can also be a learning experience. This is without a doubt both.

When Captain Harry Corsham starts investigating the brutal and torturous death of his friend the abolitionist Tad Archer, he stumbles upon a swamp of deception, lies and violence. Whilst trying to find one killer Harry finds men guilty of mass murder and inhumane atrocities. He puts himself, anyone who is involved and any person who speaks to him in peril as the upper echelon tries to keep

Shepherd-Robinson has researched the history of British slavery or rather Britain's culpability in regards to slavery in depth. It's history we are aware of, but for some reason it is never given the same voice as in the United States for instance. One could argue, and I am sure plenty would, that Britain paid restitution when slavery was abolished in 1833 in the UK, except it was paid to the slave and plantation owners to compensate them for the loss of their human property.

The exploitation of human flesh was a profitable one, a tragic element that the author makes clear in this story. The atrocious treatment of those slaves by their sellers and owners is a black mark in history in general. The author ensures that the reader can smell the fear, taste the tears and hear the screams of these unfortunate human beings caught in the vicious web of greed and inhumanity.

One can be aware of certain historical events, but when names are put to faces and details are so specific, it's hard not to feel outraged, angered and upset by the truth. The author conveys this with the brutality it merits, and still manages to pull-off a fascinating crime story at the same time.

I was really surprised to discover, after the fact, that this is a debut novel. This is the work of a seasoned writer, on par with someone who has been honing their skills for many years and books. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend or to buy further books by this author.

It's historical crime fiction, which leaves a strong message and vivid imagery in its wake, and is driven by a masterful and complex main character. I hope this isn't the last time we hear from Harry Corsham. Shepherd-Robinson is a writer to watch. This is hopefully just the beginning.

Buy Blood & Sugar at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mantle; pub date 24 Jan. 2019, Buy at Waterstones

Follow @LauraSRobinson @MantleBooks @panmacmillan on Twitter, Visit

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