book cover of Black Drop
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Black Drop

(The first book in the Laurence Jago series)
A novel by

2022 HWA Debut Crown Award (longlist)


'One of the best debuts of the year' - THE TIMES
'As nimbly realised as by the genre's master, Andrew Taylor' - FINANCIAL TIMES
Black Drop is a joy from start to finish' - ANDREW TAYLOR

This is the confession of Laurence Jago. Clerk. Gentleman. Spy.

July 1794, and London is filled with rumours of revolution. The war against the French is not going in Britain's favour, and negotiations with America are on a knife edge.

Laurence Jago, Foreign Office clerk, is ever more reliant on opium - the Black Drop - to ease his nightmares. A highly sensitive letter, whose contents could lead to the destruction of the British Army, has been leaked to the press and Laurence is a suspect. Then he discovers the body of a fellow clerk - a supposed suicide - and it seems clear where the blame truly lies.

But Laurence is certain both of his friend's innocence, and that he was murdered. But after years of hiding his own secrets from his powerful employers, can Laurence find the true culprit without ending up on the gallows himself?

A thrilling historical mystery, perfect for readers of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor, Antonia Hodgson and Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

'This opium-fuelled gem is a murderous romp' - JANICE HALLETT
'A thrilling slice of pitch-dark historical fiction' - EMMA STONEX
'A gripping, intricate story of Georgian high politics' - W.C. RYAN

Genre: Historical Mystery

Praise for this book

"Leonora Nattrass brings Georgian London vividly to life in a delectable dose of secrets, lies and sinister skullduggery. Take care not to swallow this tincture of intrigue in a single sitting!" - D V Bishop

"A riveting political thriller, set at a fulcrum-point in global history. The setting is viscerally immersive and the characters spring to life from the page. This masterful narrative of deception, intrigue and heroism unfolds with compelling pace, wry humour and acute psychological observation. Gripping, moving and utterly engaging." - Philippa East

"A wonderful, delicious treat of a book set in 1790s London. I was utterly transported to a world of political intrigue, spies and suspect deaths." - Louise Fein

"Lovers of historical thrillers have a treat in store. A splendid twisting tale of murder and espionage at the political heart of Georgian Britain." - Kate Griffin

"This opium-fuelled gem is a murderous romp through the tangled roots of British democracy." - Janice Hallett

"A darkly atmospheric and utterly immersive tale. Black Drop is a thrilling, revolutionary ride through the coffee houses and committee rooms of a corrupt and fearful city. Grab your hat and pipe and keep your pistols at the ready!" - Miranda Malins

"A dark and intriguing historical thriller. So immersive and fantastically written!" - L V Matthews

"Superb. Nattrass convincingly recreates eighteenth-century London as a backdrop for spies, murders, and a skilful blend of historic and imagined characters. Vivid and fast-paced, it's an impressive achievement, and hugely enjoyable." - Guy Morpuss

"In Black Drop Leonora Nattrass has done that most dangerous thing: allowed fictional characters to mingle with real ones. I'm far too cowardly to do that in my writing, but she has pulled it off. Well written and well constructed, and Jago is a character readers will certainly want to follow." - Alix Nathan

"Nattrass writes so beautifully. Absolutely compelling, and so atmospheric I felt I was there, following Jago around the mean streets of eighteenth-century London." - Frances Quinn

"A gripping, intricate story of Georgian high politics and low life. Leonora Nattrass's historical spy novel is top notch." - W C Ryan

"Full of political intrigue and fascinating characters, this is a highly enjoyable read." - Neema Shah

"A thrilling slice of pitch-dark historical fiction, led by a superbly engaging narrator. Entertaining and deftly written, this gripping tale of murder and treachery on the smouldering streets of eighteenth-century London deserves to be huge." - Emma Stonex

"Black Drop is a joy from start to finish. I particularly liked the glimpses of the grubby machinery of government from the inside, giving a real sense of the intrigues behind closed doors. Jago is a very sympathetic hero, with all his flaws, virtues and secrets, and Philpott made me want to smile and cheer." - Andrew Taylor

"An astounding debut novel, written with style and confidence." - A J West

"A sparkling evocation of a distant time which is remarkably similar to the current one. I loved it. The sights, smells and eccentricities of eighteenth-century Britain are so perfectly captured that if you'd told me this was one of Dickens' lost novels I'd have completely believed it. Other fictional worlds are going to seem a lot greyer in comparison." - Trevor Wood

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