Publisher Karen Sullivan acquired world English language rights in a two-book deal from David Headley. The novel will be published in June 2024.
"A. J. is a truly talented rising star in historical fiction, as evidenced by the phenomenal success of his debut, The Spirit Engineer", said Headley and co-agent Emily Glenister.
The synopsis for The Betrayal of Thomas True reads: "It is the year 1710, and Thomas True has arrived on old London Bridge with a dangerous secret. One night, lost amongst the squalor of London’s hidden back streets, he finds himself drawn into the outrageous underworld of the molly houses. Meanwhile, carpenter Gabriel Griffin struggles to hide his double life as Lotty, the mollies’ silent guard. When the queen of all ’he-harlots’, Mother Clap, confides in him about a deadly threat, he realises his friends are facing imminent execution."
"To the horror of all mollies, there is a rat among them, betraying their secrets to a pair of murderous justices, hell-bent on punishing sinners with the noose. Can Gabriel unmask the traitor before it’s too late? Can he save hapless Thomas from peril, and their own impossible love?"
West won the HWA Debut Crown for The Spirit Engineer (Duckworth Books). He commented: "The Betrayal of Thomas True is more than a book to me. It’s the novel I’ve always wanted to write; the novel I thought nobody would publish. A thriller, a romance, a mystery and a bittersweet comedy. It speaks of love and bravery in the face of terrible danger, without flinching from Britain’s dreadful history of torturing and murdering gay men for their love. Thomas True demanded a bold and brilliant publisher to have the guts and passion to bring it to life."
Sullivan added: "A.J.’s unerring, meticulous research and glorious imagination have created an intoxicating sense of time and place that is both seductive and captivating, and at its heart is a tender, unexpected love story that produces yet another level of jeopardy. This is a remarkable book – eye-opening, tragic, shocking, and cascading with emotion and dread – and the writing is simply stunning."
From The Bookseller article | Katie Fraser