The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys by Jack Jewers published September 4th with Moonflower Books and is described as one where ‘Bridgerton meets Sherlock – an action packed crime thriller from the 17th Century.’
I am delighted to bring you all an extract, courtesy of Midas PR, as well as further details about the enigma that was Samuel Pepys, enough to whet your appetite I hope!
‘Samuel Pepys Diary has enthralled readers for centuries with its audacious wit, gripping detail, and indecent assignations. Pepys stopped writing at the age of 36. Or did he? This action-packed historical thriller imagines what might have happened next.
The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys by Jack Jewers picks up a week after Pepys’ last diary entry, and follows Pepys on a mission to investigate the death of a Crown agent in Portsmouth – the home of the Royal Navy. Events spiral out of control, embroiling Pepys in a deadly plot that reaches higher than he ever could have imagined. And along the way he is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about who he is and what he really believes…
Jack Jewers reimagines one of Britain’s greatest historical figures through a 21st century lens. Readers will love how Pepys not only turns detective but must confront his own prejudices along the way. What better allies for one of history’s most infamous womanizers than a secret society of dangerous outlaws, made up entirely of women?‘
[ About the Book ]
It is the summer of 1669 and England is in dire straits. The treasury’s coffers are bare and tensions with the powerful Dutch Republic are boiling over. And now, an investigator sent by the King to look into corruption at the Royal Navy has been brutally murdered.
Loathe to leave the pleasures of London, Samuel Pepys is sent dragging his feet to Portsmouth to find the truth about what happened. Aided by his faithful assistant, Will Hewer, he soon exposes the plot as the work of a Dutch spy. But has he got the right man? The truth may be much more sinister. And if the real killer isn’t found in time, then England could be thrown into a war that would have devastating consequences…
The modern diary as we know it owes its popularity to the 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys. Quite simply without Pepys’ secret diary, discovered 150 years after his death, there may have been no Bridget Jones, no Dracula, no Adrian Mole, and no Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
But this is no dry, lifeless old document. Pepys’ diaries have enthralled generations of readers with their exciting, often crude and frequently hilarious confessions about day-to-day life during the Restoration. From slating Shakespeare’s plays to detailing his secret love affairs, Pepys’ diary reads like a 17th century Hello! Magazine.
Pepys witnessed some of the most dramatic events in English history, from the return of Charles II to the horrors of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, but put his pen down for the last time in the early summer of 1669. Jack Jewers’ inventive crime caper, The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys imagines what happened next.
For those unfamiliar with the Restoration period, this was when Charles II returned to the throne after Oliver Cromwell. It was a time of hedonism and excitement, which saw the theatres reopen and women take to the stage for the first time. Brothels and ale-houses could once more operate freely. But it was also an era rocked by disaster, from the Great Fire of London in 1666, to devastating wars with the Dutch – that England lost. It was the best of times, and the worst of times.
[ Extract ]
It was an hour after midnight and the whorehouse was on fire.
I was woken from a slumber by shouting from somewhere down the corridor. My head was light from wine and the pleasures lately taken. I looked around, but there was no sign of the girl who had been here when I shut my eyes. The last I could remember was her going to fetch more wine.
Then I caught it on the air. The smell of burning.
I slid from the canopied bed and immediately stumbled across the floor, my legs caught up in the shirt that hung down over my bare legs. I felt for my boots.
The noises from the corridor grew louder. Panicked screams and the pounding of feet along the old wooden floorboards. I pulled on my boots as quickly as I could, my eyes straining to see in the near- darkness. Then, picking up the small clay oil lamp that provided the room’s only illumination, I grabbed my little satchel and opened the door.
A cloud of acrid smoke stung my eyes and filled my lungs, causing me to choke. Figures ran past the doorway, shapes in the billowing smoke, their flickering lamps floating by like spectres.
Holding my arm to my mouth, I forced myself out into the corridor. All around I could hear screams of panic. People jostled against me, desperate to reach the staircase and the safety of outside.
In the crush, the lamp was knocked out of my hand and it shattered on the floor. A lick of flame from the spilled oil ignited a pair of silk curtains.
The smoke was growing thicker by the moment. I could hardly see a thing. All I could do was run with the crowd and pray that they knew their way around the building better than I did.
We rounded a corner and all of a sudden, the air cleared a little. I could make out an open space with a tall ceiling, the glint of gilded walls, and a skylight through which the moon illuminated the hazy air. I recalled going through an atrium as the girl led me to her chamber. That meant we were on the top floor, with three storeys
between us and the safety of the street.
‘This way.’ Mother Quick stood at the top of a wrought-iron staircase, holding a lit candelabra. Her pink silk gown was dishevelled and torn down one side, her tall wig tilted askew.
‘Move!’ she repeated, as a crush of men and women ran past me and down the stairs. Only now could I see that some of them were naked.
I did not follow.
‘Mr Pepys, you must go,’ shouted Mother Quick.
‘Have you seen Mr Hewer? The man I came in with. I must find
She thought for a moment, sweat making rivulets through her
thickly powdered face.
‘He was at cards in the parlour. You’ll find him outside. Now
A great billow of black smoke made us both choke. We held on
to each other, gasping for breath.
It was then that we saw them.
Standing at the entrance to the corridor, flames rising around them, they looked more like devils than men. Four of them, dressed in the clothes of fine gentlemen, but with hair styled into rigid spikes. One carried a flaming torch.
Behind them the silk drapes that lined the corridor were ablaze. Looking around for new quarry, the men saw us and grinned.
With horror I saw that their teeth were filed into points like the fangs of an animal.
Mother Quick gripped my arm. ‘Mr Pepys. Run.’
I could hear their terrible cries behind us as we fled down the stairs. I knew without doubt that if they caught us we would be bludgeoned to death on the spot. And then Mother Quick tripped over her skirts, dropping the candelabra to the ground.
We were plunged into darkness.
Had the bawd let go of me at that moment then I do not think I would have survived. Fortunately, she knew the building inside and out. I held onto her for my very life, following blindly as she jerked right and left. We ran along a corridor, skirting around furniture that I could neither see nor remember from when I had last come this way, an hour or so ago, when the night had seemed so very different.
I heard an almighty crash behind us as one of our pursuers ran into a piece of furniture, or perhaps one of the fashionable objects d’art Mother Quick had littered about the house. Either way, it bought us precious seconds. As we half-tumbled down the last flight of stairs we heard dreadful screams from above; whether it was clients of the house, or those brutes consumed by the inferno of their own making, I could not tell.
[ Bio ]
Jack Jewers is a filmmaker and writer, passionate about history. His career has been spent telling stories across every form of media, and his body of work includes film, TV, and digital media. His films have been shown at dozens of international film festivals, including Cannes, New York, Marseille, Dublin, and London’s FrightFest, garnering multiple accolades, including an award from the Royal Television Society and a nomination from BAFTA Wales for Best Short Film.
The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys is his first novel.
Twitter ~ @jackjewers