Behind the Book: In the Presence of Evil by Tania Bayard

presence of

Paris, 1393. Recent widow Christine de Pizan became a scribe to support her family, but when she is called to the palace to work, she dreads going. There, everyone fears the king’s attacks of unreason and they believe the charlatans who claim they can cure him with vile potions. But when a mysterious book of magic leaves a trail of real murdered bodies in its wake, Christine has more than black magic to worry about . . .



Although a work of fiction, the inspiration for Tania’s heroine is the real-life Christine de Pizan. Tania gives us an insight into her unique character . . .

There are plenty of fictitious female sleuths in mysteries set in the Middle Ages, but my novel is different, because the sleuth is based on a real person, the noted author and defender of women, Christine de Pizan. Christine was an exceptionally courageous woman. Early in her career, she became incensed by the way women were belittled in The Romance of the Rose, one of the most popular books in the late 14th century, and she dared to carry on a literary quarrel about the book with some of the noted intellectuals of her day. She went on to earn her living as a writer, an extraordinary feat at that time, and she continued to defend women in almost everything she wrote.

Christine de Pizan was fearless, the ideal sleuth. In my novel, she knows that the woman accused of poisoning her husband is not guilty, so she defies the demented monarch who refuses to hear the truth and saves the woman from execution by finding the actual murderer. She proves a point the real Christine de Pizan made in her writings: “When women set out to do something, they are smarter and shrewder than men.”

IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL is available now in the UK and 1 August in the US. Find out more here.


Editor’s Pick August 2018 UK/December 2018 US: A BAD, BAD THING by Elena Forbes


This month’s Editor’s Pick is A BAD, BAD THING by Elena Forbes.


We are delighted to welcome acclaimed psychological thriller writer Elena Forbes to the Severn House list with A BAD, BAD THING, the first in a brand-new mystery series featuring former police officer Eve West, who is drawn into a dark and complex case when she’s asked to investigate a miscarriage of justice.

As the novel opens, Eve is suspended from duty after a police operation goes catastrophically wrong. Receiving help from an unexpected quarter – a criminal she helped put away many years before – Eve feels she has no choice but to agree to his request to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice in return. But why is a hardened criminal like John Duran so keen to help a fellow-inmate convicted of the murder of a stable-girl? And why has he chosen Eve to look into the case?

Teaming up with crusading journalist Dan Cooper, Eve begins to uncover disturbing flaws in the original police investigation. As her enquiries progress, it becomes clear that Eve has been keeping secrets of her own – and when those secrets begin to be dragged to the surface, she comes to realize that she has been plunged into a case more complex and sinister than she ever imagined.

Just some of the many elements that make A BAD, BAD THING an exceptionally strong whodunit are, not least, the heroine herself: Eve is smart and strong, but not invincible, and this makes her very accessible and her mysterious backstory ever more intriguing. Then there’s the multi-layered plot, which contains more than enough unexpected twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned mystery reader glued to the page: on one level there’s the intriguing background of Eve herself; on another, there’s the fact that she may well have been set up in the shocking opening episode – and it’s clear that the criminal John Duran has some strange knowledge of how and why; while on the third level there’s the mystery surrounding the stable-girl’s murder; and the questionable innocence of her alleged killer, who has been serving time ever since. There are some fabulous twists at the end, when all the mysteries begin to unravel and tie together in many unexpected ways.

And if that’s not enough to pique a reader’s curiosity, I don’t know what is!

I would highly recommend A BAD, BAD THING to fans of complex psychological thrillers such as those of Clare Mackintosh, Tana French and M J Arlidge.

A BAD, BAD THING is available 31 August in the UK and 1 December in the US. Read more here.

We’re recruiting! Publishing Assistant role at Severn House Publishing

Come and work with us!

Publishing Assistant

Due to the recent promotion of our current Editorial Assistant, we are hiring again.
Severn House is a vibrant independent publishing house, specialising in commercial fiction, especially crime and thrillers, romantic sagas, horror and historical fiction for primarily the British and American library markets. In 2017 we were acquired by Canongate Books, but remain independent within the group. We are looking for a meticulous and energetic Publishing Assistant to join our small and dynamic team.

Based in London, this entry-level position will support the Editorial and Marketing teams in all aspects of the publishing process – from the moment of acquisition to publication and beyond.

The key tasks you will be responsible for include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Supporting the editorial team and specifically the Publisher
• Liaising with authors, agents and freelancers to ensure individual projects are on track according to the publishing schedule
• Collating and checking proofs and covers for print
• Helping maintain up-to-date bibliographical data within Biblio
• Creating prelims for new titles
• Working with colleagues to create targeted marketing campaigns across Facebook, Twitter and company newsletters
• Loading titles on to NetGalley and approving reviewer requests
• Reading and reporting on new submissions

Some experience of editorial, marketing or production processes of a trade book publisher would be an advantage. A keen eye for detail as well as exceptional interpersonal and organisational skills are essential.

Starting salary will be £21K plus benefits.

Please email your CV and covering letter by Friday 13th July to Only successful applicants will be acknowledged.



July US titles out today!


Cats, novelists, country houses, iconic women, politics, Victorian Leeds, mental turmoil, secret missions, nuns and royalty . . . These new reads out now in the States are bursting with intrigue!

murder1MURDER TAKES A TURN by Eric Brown

A weekend at the grand home of a successful novelist leads to murder in the new Langham & Dupré mystery. 

Langham’s literary agent, Charles Elder, receives a cryptic letter inviting him to spend the weekend at the Cornish home of successful novelist Denbigh Connaught. Accompanying Charles to Connaught House, Langham and his wife Maria discover that they are not the only guests. And when a body is discovered in Connaught’s study, dark secrets that haunt the past of each and every guest – including Charles Elder himself – are uncovered.

Find out more here.

tin godTHE TIN GOD by Chris Nickson

When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.

Standing for election as a Poor Law Guardian, Tom Harper’s wife Annabelle and the other female candidates have been receiving anonymous, threatening letters. The threats turn deadly with carefully-targeted explosions. The only clue Harper has is a scrap of paper containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

Find out more here.

red hand of furyTHE RED HAND OF FURY by R.N. Morris

A series of bizarre suicides leads Detective Inspector Silas Quinn to revisit his own troubled past . . .

June, 1914. Following three, seemingly unrelated suicides, DI Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one clue is a card each victim was carrying, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. To find out what it means, Quinn must revisit his own dark history.

Find out more here.

sabotage in the secret


Can research chemist-sleuth Libby Clark uncover the traitor within in this gripping World War II mystery?   

May 1945. Harry S. Truman has become president, the Allied Forces are closing in on Berlin and the research scientists at the secret facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, are doing their bit to bring the war to a conclusion. But a campaign of small acts of sabotage convinces Libby that one of their number is deliberately trying to delay the mission. But when the pranks turn deadly, can Libby unmask the traitor within?

Find out more here.

daeth of a novice

DEATH OF A NOVICE by Cora Harrison

A young nun’s death raises disturbing questions in the compelling new Reverend Mother mystery.

When new young nun, Sister Gertrude, is found dead inside a wooden shed, the Reverend Mother delves into her background and finds some puzzling anomalies. Could there be a link between her death and the gunpowder explosion on Spike Island? The answers to this question and more must be found if the Reverend Mother is to catch a vicious murderer.

Find out more here.
cross my pathCROSS MY PATH by Clea Simon

Private Investigator Care is riding on the wave of success, but is she about to come crashing off?

Care’s reputation as a private investigator is growing. An elderly woman seeks Care’s help in finding out what happened to her brother. Blackie senses he’s met this woman before, sometime before he became a cat. But who is she – and what is their connection? At the same time, a dockworker asks Care to find a colleague who’s gone missing, and the investigation takes a disturbing new twist . . .

Find out more here.

queen's progressQUEEN’S PROGRESS by M J Trow

Kit Marlowe must make sure Queen Elizabeth’s royal progress goes to plan, but there are problems ahead.

May, 1591. Queen Elizabeth decides to embark on a Royal Progress, and Kit Marlowe is sent ahead to ensure all goes smoothly. But Marlowe’s mission is dogged by disaster with the discovery of bodies along the way. Are the incidents linked? Is there a conspiracy to sabotage the Queen’s Progress? To uncover the truth, Marlowe must come up with a fiendishly clever plan.

Find out more here.