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.
Set in Deptford 1781, Blood & Sugar is a murder mystery that explores Britain’s horiffic involvement with the salve trade. Captain Harry Corsham, a war hero who is married to an ambitious wife, eagerly seeks a career in politics. However, Captain Corsham’s plans go awry as he discovers a tortured corpse of his university friend Tad Archer in Deptford. A passionate abolitionist Tad Archer has been campaigning for the end of slavery and his murder forces Harry to go against some of the country’s most powerful politicians in his efforts to uncover the truth in Tad’s death and expose the terrible actions against humanity committed by Britain’s slave traders.
I loved Laura’s debut novel Blood and Sugar. The action starts right away and it’s so hard to put the book down! It’s a tightly plotted novel which is something I really enjoyed because the plot is absolutely brilliant and it really keeps you turning the pages. It’s a wonderful blend of mystery and historical fiction that really keeps you intrigued. The corrupt politics are woven throughout this novel and Laura draws on power, the exercise of it and the protection of vested interest. At the time, slavery was a huge industry that a lot of politicians and powerful people wanted to protect and Laura draws our attention to this. You can see Laura’s passion and interest for the 18th century. What really struck me was the emergence of modern enlightenment values and yet, the existence of a primitive and brutal society and the clash of these two value sets are portrayed throughout the book. Laura balances the horror of what happened during this period but does so with sensitivity.
A lot of the action takes place in Deptford however, around 5 miles away is central London which at that time was a big working industrial city. The contrast between the two locations is startling. One on hand you have Deptford where there was a lot of crime and poor living conditions, compared to the glittering power of central London just a short distance away. Our hero, Captain Harry Corsham lives in London and is very much a part of the high society, however, when he travels to Deptford he leaves all that behind and really has to fight for his life. It’s such a very different world. Its clear to see Laura spent a lot of time researching Deptford and really brings it to life in her novel.
Blood and Sugar is a gripping book packed with mystery and action. Laura addresses the the slave trade and reminds us of the barbarity and continued injustice of the slaves that built Britain’s riches. When reading the book, I really sensed the horrors endured and Laura does not shy away from the brutality. The book really immerses you in the landscapes of London and Deptford during the 18th century with vivid colour, sounds and smells which shows Laura’s talent for writing.
I would highly recommend adding this book to your summer reading list! To purchase the book, click the shop link below.