Serpent’s Tail’s newly launched crime imprint Viper have signed a historical "whodunnit" as part of a two-book deal with debut author Leonora Nattrass.
Miranda Jewess, senior commissioning editor at the Serpent's Tail imprint, secured UK and Commonwealth rights from Giles Milburn of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency to historical thriller Black Drop and a second book. Black Drop is slated for publication in autumn 2021.
The debut is a political thriller set in the chaos of 18th-century London, which draws on the real events of 1794: war with France, peace negotiations with the new American republic and the deathly 'Treason Trials'. When an English Foreign Office clerk begins to investigate the suspicious death of a friend, he uncovers a conspiracy that reaches from the battlefields of Europe to the corridors of Whitehall and the backstreets of London. And when out of desperation he rekindles an old, unwise partnership, more innocent lives are threatened and he is brought to the brink of catastrophe.
Jewess said: "This book pulls off the difficult feat of being both a compelling whodunnit, and also a rich and vivid historical novel. Leonora's feeling and flair for the period puts the reader in the very heart of 18th-century London. I am incredibly excited to publish such an exciting new author."
"I have always admired Serpent's Tail, and am delighted to be a part of their new Viper imprint," Nattrass said. "It is a thrill to be working with the formidably brilliant Miranda Jewess on two forthcoming books."
Milburn added: "Black Drop is deeply absorbing historical thriller that propels the reader through the sights, smells, intrigue and murder of eighteenth century London. I can’t wait for Miranda and the Viper team to get their fangs into the publishing of it, and for readers to enjoy Leonora’s amazing story-telling abilities."
The deal comes shortly after Jewess outlined her plans for the Viper imprint, calling for "books with bite" spanning police procedurals, psychological thrillers and debut authors amongst others. Jewess, the former acquisitions and managing editor at Titan Books, joined Serpent’s Tail in February and Viper was formally launched last month.