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Black & White snares ‘dazzling’ historical mystery from Ribchester

Black & White Publishing, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, is to publish Murder Ballad by Lucy Ribchester.

Rachel Morrell, editor at Black & White Publishing, acquired world rights from Daisy Parente at Lutyens & Rubinstein.

From the award-winning author of The Hourglass Factory comes a dark, historical mystery set in Edinburgh’s dazzling 18th century music scene. Combining the macabre murder mystery of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume with the feminist slant of Kate Foster’s The MaidenMurder Ballad explores a tale of friendship, betrayal and deadly secrets.

Isobel Duguid and her friend, the celebrated castrato Clessidro, enjoy an opulent lifestyle as the stars of the Edinburgh Musical Society. Clessidro sings opera and Isobel, despite the objections of the society’s committee, sings dark Scottish ballads, her most notorious being The Fiddler’s Wrath.  

It’s a tale of a prima donna who died of heartbreak after her husband murdered her lover and was sent to the gallows. But this ballad is more than fiction, and when the truth about The Fiddler’s Wrath comes to light, Isobel must confront ghosts from her own past and face chilling retribution for a secret kept far too long . . . 

Lucy Ribchester was born in Edinburgh. She has a first-class degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a Masters in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London & Shakespeare’s Globe. In 2013 she received a New Writers Award from The Scottish Book Trust. She has since won a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and been shortlisted for the COSTA Short Story Award and Manchester Fiction Prize. Her first novel, The Hourglass Factory, was longlisted for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown, picked by Val McDermid for her New Blood panel at Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, and selected by Waterstones’ Edinburgh branches as their Book of the Year. Lucy also covers dance, books and children’s events for Scotland’s The List magazine, and writes contemporary thrillers under the name Elle Connel.

Lucy Ribchester said: “From the first conversation I had with Rachel I knew she was the perfect person to publish this book. She has been passionate about the characters, ideas and setting throughout, and we share the same macabre sense of humour. For my first Edinburgh novel I couldn’t be more excited to be working with an Edinburgh-based publisher.”   

Rachel Morrell said: “We are thrilled to be working with Lucy on her newest historical fiction novel. She has created a gripping story exploring ownership and culpability through such a wry lens. Murder Ballad is a dazzling story of deceit, mystery, betrayal and buried secrets.” 

Murder Ballad will be published on 20th June 2024.