HQ signs 'gritty' Leeds-based crime from Barlow

HQ signs 'gritty' Leeds-based crime from Barlow

HQ has signed two Leeds-based crime novels by John Barlow, beginning with the “tense and timely” Right to Kill.

Cicely Aspinall, senior commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the books from Nicola Barr at The Bent Agency. Right to Kill will be published in hardback, e-book and audio on 1st April 2021.

Right to Kill is set against the backdrop of Brexit Britain “where racism and drugs are rife and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen”.

The synopsis explains: “DS Romano is trying to get his life and work back on track after a misguided stint at Interpol, which caused his career to take a nosedive. Now back in his hometown of Leeds, he’s working dead-end cases, like the disappearance of a local drug dealer. It’s a case on which nobody but Romano wants to waste much time – until the dealer turns up dead. Romano is partnered with the straight-talking DS Rita Scannon-Akhtar, and the pair delve into the murky world of right-wing activists and drug dealer rivalries, while social media begins to mount in favour of a killer seen to be cleaning up the streets.”

Barlow said: “I wrote Right to Kill in the Pescador Bar in Coruña, Spain, beer after beer, tapa after tapa, for the sheer love of writing. By that stage I'd essentially given up being an author, and I never thought the text would be published (or finished!). Yet I think it turned out to be the best thing I've written, and Joe Romano the character I'm most proud of. There's got to be a lesson in that.”

Aspinall added: “It’s always a joy to read a book set in your home county and John’s realistic and gritty portrayal of Leeds is a timely breath of fresh air. Right to Kill is a heart-stopping thriller with a good dose of Yorkshire wit, but it also scratches beneath the surface to expose the realities of our fractured Northern communities. I was gripped from the start by this tightly plotted novel and I can’t wait for everyone to meet DS Joe Romano!"

Barr commented: “I'm delighted for John, the nicest of men, that in the same month his book has found a perfect home with Cicely and HQ and Leeds have won promotion back to the Premiership. The two things are almost certainly connected.”

Barlow's last novel was The Communion of Saints (Storm), the third book in his John Ray series, released in December 2016.