Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Review Copy

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 . . .

My Review:

Blood And Sugar is a historical fiction novel set in 1781, dealing with a grisly murder at Deptford Dock…
But why does the body show signs of torture and with a slavers mark on the corpse?
In the opening prologue Nathanial Grimshaw find the naked body of Thomas Valentine (Tad). We are immediately drawn into the drama with exceptional writing.
‘On every side of them, the Devil’s breath coiled and smoked’

Captain Harry Cosham, war hero recently turned parliamentarian is immediately drawn to investigate the case, as Tad was a close personal friend. He begins by questioning Tad’s sister Amelia Bradsheet. Amelia is a widow and we become aware she is also shunned via shame and kept away from society. What little information she can provide points to trouble snapping at Tad’s heels…

‘Tad was mixed up in something dangerous. He told me that he had made some powerful enemies’ – Amelia

The body of the deceased shows multiple signs of having received slave punishments. Then the throat cut and left on display as a warning. But who is the killer sending a message to?

‘Our shard past was a dark and dangerous place’ – Harry

Harry’s wife Caro is reluctant for him to get involved with the case, due to his promising career.
We are reminded this is an era, where scandal could lose you everything you hold dear.

‘You cannot break the rules without consequences’ – Caro

There is an array of characters from slavers, abolitionists, prostitutes and key political figures. This is an intelligent novel steeped in historical accuracy, with the dark theme of mass murder of slaves (regarded as property, not people in the era).
Whys is Harry obligated to find Tad’s killer?
Who can you trust when money and power corrupts at its leisure?
The truth is finally revealed, and the ending is shocking and heart-breaking in equal measure.
Perfect for book groups and a thoroughly cracking debut novel. 4.5*

Laura Shepherd-Robinson

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