Black & White Publishing, the flagship commercial imprint of Bonnier Books UK’s Black & White Publishing Group, has acquired A Drowning Tide by Sarah Lawton.

Rachel Morrell, editor at Black & White, acquired World English rights from Felicity Blunt and Rosie Pierce at Curtis Brown. 

When her next-door neighbour goes missing, cryptic-crossword writer Merry will have to uncover her own hidden skeletons in a puzzle too tempting to ignore. 

Merry’s simple and reclusive life on the Isle of Wight consists of writing cryptic crossword puzzles for work, swimming in the icy sea for pleasure, and keeping a careful eye on her neighbour Lucas Manning, the son of her late best friend. When Lucas goes missing, she finds herself caught up in the search for his whereabouts, forming an uneasy alliance with private investigator Gareth Jones, who was hired by Lucas’s employers. 

As she begins to dig into Lucas’s life, Merry discovers that this is no straightforward disappearing act and something much more sinister is at play. Merry soon realises that finding Lucas will expose all her own deeply buried secrets and her dark past with the Manning family, resulting in mortal danger and a life twist she never expected.

A Drowning Tide is an unpredictable, gripping story of toxic families, dangerous secrets and the past catching up with the present. For fans of Alice Slater’s Death of a Bookseller and Sabine Durrant’s Finders, Keepers

Sarah Lawton said: “I’m thrilled to be working with Rachel and the team at Black & White. Merry’s world is very close to my heart, and I hope readers enjoy exploring it as much as I enjoyed creating it.”

Rachel Morrell said: “I am so excited for the world to dive into this cosy and riveting mystery, surrounded by a beautiful portrayal of the Isle of Wight in A Drowning Tide. We have intricate characters, perplexing clues, unearthed secrets, gadgets worthy of a spy thriller and an incredible narrative which draws you in, much like the relationship Merry has with the ocean. It’s addictive, funny and keeps you guessing until the end. I hope people will enjoy an escape into Merry’s world as much as I do.”

Sarah Lawton grew up on the Isle of Wight before leaving to study History & Archaeology at Southampton University. She also has a master’s degree in history. Her first novel All The Little Things (Canelo), which was written on the Faber Academy six month writing course, was published in 2021. It was reviewed in Heat Magazine as ‘Book of the Week,’ as well as the Woman’s Institute magazine. Sarah was also featured in Writing magazines ‘New Author’ segment in February 2021. As well as writing, she works as a freelance developmental editor in East London. 

A Drowning Tide will be published 12 September 2024.