UK & Commonwealth rights to Leonora Nattrass’ twisty historical thriller, Black Drop have been scooped up by Serpent’s Tail / Viper Books.

Due for publication in Autumn 2021, the debut was acquired by Miranda Jewess, senior commissioning editor at the new imprint: “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.” 

Viper is a just-launched crime imprint which is looking for, as Miranda put it, “books with bite”, so it’s hugely exciting that Leonora’s brilliant novel will be part of the first stages of this imprint’s history!

Set in a tumultuous 1794, Black Drop tells the story of Laurence Chenhall…

July 1794. Rumours of revolution, intrigue and espionage mix with the noise and dust on London’s baking streets.

Following a potentially calamitous leak to the press that puts thousands of British lives in danger, Laurence Jago– clerk to the British Foreign Office – finds himself wrongly accused of being the source. Though innocent, he cannot reveal the true culprit without also incriminating himself.

For Laurence has his own secrets, his own grievous faults, and even though his reputation lies in tatters and his life hangs in the balance, they are serious enough to compel him to find other ways to bring the mole to justice.

But he is playing a dangerous game; one in which the truth could be more deadly than the deception, but confession might be the only way to stop more innocent lives being lost.

If there is any innocence in this dance of diplomacy and death.

Leonora said of the deal: “I have always admired Serpent’s Tail, and am delighted to be a part of their new Viper imprint… It is a thrill to be working with the formidably brilliant Miranda Jewess on two forthcoming books.”

Leonora Nattrass ventures into the twenty-first century only rarely – living in a seventeenth-century house with seventeenth-century draughts, and spins the fleeces of her traditional Ryeland sheep into yarn which she then dyes, weaves and knits. She is in good company. Queen Elizabeth I insisted on Ryeland wool for her stockings.