Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Unbooking the First

If you follow the BoSS every Sunday, wherein I run down the books and proofs that I receive each week, you'll know that the increasing visibility of bloggers has meant publishers take the enthusiast press that much more seriously. Hardly a day goes by without one ARC or another falling through my letterbox for review here on TSS, and though I do what I can to cover as many of those books as is humanly possible, the sad fact is that many of them go unnoticed - but for a brief mention in the weekly books received feature, that is.

Short of hiring a small volunteer staff to read through and review those novels I'm simply unable to, it takes a name that I recognise, a synopsis that really gets me going or else a publisher or imprint that I have the utmost confidence in to ensure that I'll make the time to read something.

Any of those things - or, I find today, some truly kick-ass presentation.

Because once in a while, a book isn't just a book. Someone goes the extra mile to grab my attention. They slip a CD of recommended music to read by inside the front dustcover - as with The Whisperers by John Connolly; they'll write a letter explaining why they think this book, over all the other books, is worth my attention - many Gollancz releases do this; or bind a printed manuscript for me to read before nigh-on everyone else - see the great Kraken and Neil Gaiman's collection of Stories.

This morning, though, something new...

An unassuming parcel sealed with a wax stamp. Have a closer look at the seal:

It reads "05-08-10," which, and this is just a stab in the dark here, sounds to me like a release date. But for what?

For Sacred Treason by James Forrester, apparently, which a little explanatory note tells me is "a brilliant and enthralling debut historical thriller in the vein of C.J. Sansom." And here's the blurb:

London, December 1563. England is a troubled nation. Catholic plots against the young Queen Elizabeth spring up all over the country. At his house in the parish of St Bride, the herald William Harley – known to everyone as Clarenceux - receives a book from his friend and fellow Catholic, Henry Machyn. But Machyn is in fear of his life, claiming that the book is deadly... What secret can it hold? And then Clarenceux is visited by the State in the form of Francis Walsingham and his ruthless enforcers, who will stop at nothing to gain possession of it. If Clarenceux and his family are to survive the terror of Walsingham, and to plead with the queen’s Secretary of State Sir William Cecil for their lives, Clarenceux must solve the clues contained in the book to unlock its dangerous secrets before it’s too late. And when he does, he realises that it's not only his life and the lives of those most dear to him that are at stake...

Now ordinarily, this sort of fiction isn't exactly my cup of tea, but the special treatment the always lovely publicity folks at Headline have given it mean I can hardly resist giving Sacred Treason the old once-over. In amongst all the other books that pile through my letterbox - and I would stress that I'm certainly not complaining - it's been made to stand out where otherwise it perhaps wouldn't have, and you know what? I'm intrigued. So stay tuned, readers, for a review of baby's first historical thiller sometimes before, yes, the fifth of August.

And publishers: take note!


  1. James Forrester is the pen name for historian Dr Ian Mortimer. I read and reviewed his
    The Time Traveller's Guide To Medieval England.
    A great read even for fantasy fans.
    So thank you for mentioning his novel. I will add it immediately to my list. By the way there are more great historical thrillers worth reading...