Canelo Crime set to publish new Welsh crime series by Sarah Ward

September 07, 2022

Commissioning editor Siân Heap has acquired World English Language rights to a new crime series by Sarah Ward from Kirsty McLachlan at Morgan Greene Creatives in a three-book deal. 

The Birthday Girl is the first book in a new crime series featuring former-Met police officer Mallory Dawson who moves to the remote Welsh island of Eldey to take up the position of night manager at a boutique hotel. As an odd assortment of guests gather and a storm hits the island, Mallory’s focus is on trying to keep the guests calm. Until one night at dinner, one of the guests identifies someone on the island as Bryony Clive, a former child murderer – dubbed The Birthday Girl – who became infamous after poisoning her friends at her eleventh birthday party. Hours later, the guest is dead and it becomes apparent that Bryony is up to her old tricks. As the storm closes in and the body count climbs, Mallory is in a race against time to work out which of her guests is Bryony. But as she soon discovers, Eldey has a long history of holding on to its secrets. 

Sarah Ward is a critically acclaimed crime and gothic thriller writer. Her book, A Patient Fury, was an Observer book of the month and The Quickening, written as Rhiannon Ward, was a Radio Times book of the year. Sarah is on the Board of the Crime Writers Association, Derby Book Festival and Friends of Buxton International Festival. She is an RLF Fellow at Sheffield University.

Siân Heap says: ‘I raced through The Birthday Girl when I first read it. Sarah brings the rugged island setting to life so vividly, and the threat of Bryony looms large, creating a masterful claustrophobic tension that runs throughout the novel. Mallory is such an engaging lead character, and I’m so excited to be working with Sarah on multiple novels featuring her.’

Sarah Ward says: ‘I’m over the moon to be working with the team at Canelo. I’ve long admired its reputation as a dynamic, forward-looking publisher and Siân’s enthusiasm for a Welsh-based series bowled me over. I spent my childhood in South Wales and was dying to set a series in the atmospheric coastline of Pembrokeshire. I can’t wait to introduce Mallory Dawson to readers next year.’ 

Kirsty McLachlan says: ‘I’m truly delighted that Canelo will be publishing Sarah’s next crime series. Their enthusiasm was infectious from the offset and Siân will be the perfect editor.’

The Birthday Girl will be published in April 2023, in mass-market paperback and ebook, with the next book in the series to follow in October 2023, and a third book in summer 2024. For more information please contact