A look at the new UK publishing house QUERCUS

Written by Mike Stotter








A few months ago I was intrigued by an excellent novel by Thomas H. Cook entitled Red Leaves which I reviewed :-


Red Leaves was then nominated for an MWA Edgar award and has recently been nominated for a CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger. This did not surprise me, such is the brilliance of the writing. What did surprise me was the name of the publishing group in the UK – Quercus, who I had never heard of. So on behalf of our readership at Shots Ezine, I decided to explore and find out who these Quercus folk are.


My investigation revealed that Quercus have an amazing list of thrillers, crime and mystery titles coming to the UK. So if you are looking for some excellent crime / mystery / thrillers then Quercus are a publisher really worth exploring, as our special report illustrates, and if you haven’t yet read RED LEAVES by Thomas H. Cook – what are you waiting for?

– Ali Karim


So who are Quercus?


Quercus, a brand new crime fiction publisher, was launched in March this year. Over the last few years the larger publishers have consolidated their lists to such an extent that it is very difficult for authors who are not already established bestsellers to be published. This has lead to the current situation where there are a large number of wonderful writers who have no UK publisher. Quercus has been established to remedy this problem.


Quercus was set-up by four ex-staff members from the Orion Publishing Group including the original founder of Orion, Anthony Cheetham. Orion was responsible for bringing authors such as James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly to the UK. They also launched, and continue to publish, big British names such as Ian Rankin. The Quercus team therefore have plenty of experience in spotting the next big thing in crime fiction and in bringing it to the reading public.


In order to bring to the UK the very best American crime writing Quercus work very closely with Otto Penzler, the founder of the US’s premier crime fiction bookseller, The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. Through Otto Quercus has access to the very best American crime writers.


Quercus published their first four titles in March this year. One of these, Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook, has just been shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger. This is a great example of the quality of writing which Quercus will be focusing on bringing to the British reading public.


Already Published from Quercus


Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook was shortlisted for the Edgar Award in the USA and has just been shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger here in the UK. It has received wonderful reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. The Independent on Sunday called it “outstanding” and Harlan Coben described it as “gripping, beautifully written, surprising and devastating”.


It is a powerful, thrilling and moving exploration of what can happen when trust within a family breaks down. Eric Moore has every reason to be happy. He has a prosperous business, a comfortable home and a stable family life in a quiet town. Then, on an ordinary night, his teenage son Keith is asked to babysit Amy Giordano, the eight-year-old daughter of a neighbouring family. The next morning Amy is missing.


Suddenly Eric is one of the stricken parents he has seen on television, professing faith in his child’s innocence. As the police investigation increasingly focuses on Keith, Eric must counsel his son, find him a lawyer, protect him from the community’s steadily growing suspicion. Except that Eric is not so sure that his son is innocent…


The Enemy of God by Robert Daley. Gabe Driscoll, chief of Internal Affairs for the New York City police department, stands in the city morgue, watching an autopsy. His interest is more than professional. The body is that of activist priest Frank Redmond, who along with Driscoll belonged to a championship swim relay team at a Jesuit high school in the 1950s.

More than three decades later, Redmond has gone off a Harlem rooftop a few blocks from his church, and the surviving members of the team - Driscoll and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Andrew Troy - find themselves reunited in a bizarre new race to figure out how and why Redmond died. Was it suicide, as police and diocesan investigations have summarily concluded? Or was he pushed-murdered-and if so, by whom? The search for answers takes them to Vietnam and Africa and back to Harlem, and inside their own ambitions, passions, and secrets, both past and present.


The Best American Mystery Stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates. This is an annual collection of the very best American crime and mystery short stories. The 2005 edition includes stories from such well known names as Scott Turow, Dennis Lehane, George V. Higgins, Laura Lippman and Stuart M. Kaminsky.

The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates. This is a stunning collection of short stories from award winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates. A young wife is home alone when the phone rings in ‘So Help Me God’. Is the strange voice flirting with her from the other end of the line her jealous husband laying a trap, or a stranger who knows entirely too much about her? In ‘Madison at Guignol’ an unhappy fashionista discovers a secret door inside her favourite clothing store and insists the staff let her enter. But even her fevered imagination cannot anticipate the horror they have been hiding from her. In these and other gripping and disturbing tales, women are confronted by the evil around them and surprised by the evil they find within themselves

With wicked insight, Joyce Carol Oates demonstrates why the female of the species – be they six-year-old girls, seemingly devoted wives, or aging mothers – are by nature more deadly than the males.

Forthcoming Titles from Quercus


The Broken Shore by Peter Temple is published at the end of June. Peter Temple is Australia’s greatest crime writer, but until now he has never been published in the UK.


Broken by his last case, homicide detective Joe Cashin has fled the city and returned to his hometown to run its one-man police station while his wounds heal and the nightmares fade. He lives a quiet life with his two dogs in the tumbledown wreck his family home has become. It's a peaceful existence - ideal for the rehabilitating man. But his recovery is rudely interrupted by a brutal attack on Charles Bourgoyne, a prominent member of the local community.


Suspicion falls on three young men from the local Aboriginal community. But Cashin's not so sure and as the case unfolds amid simmering corruption and prejudice, he finds himself holding on to something that it might be better to let go. The relentless story of a town with a hidden past versus a man who is trying to forget his, The Broken Shore delivers powerful, lean writing, pumping more muscle and feeling into one paragraph than other writers can muster in a page. A masterpiece of insight and passion, Peter Temple's UK debut announces the arrival of a talent to rival Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin.


Damnation Street by Andrew Klavan is published at the beginning of August. Andrew Klavan was described by Stephen King as “the most original American novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich”. He is a modern master of the hardboiled detective thriller and Damnation Street sees him writing at the very top of his game.


Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters, edited by Otto Penzler with an introduction by Harlan Coben, is also published in August. This is a new landmark anthology of the very best crime writing from the pulp magazines of the 20s, 30s and 40s. Legendary writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich are joined by less well known names such as Frederick Nebel, Paul Cain and William Rollins. Tailor-made for both pulp novices and hard-boiled fans, this collection shows that some writing has an edge that time just can’t dull.  


These are just some of the great titles coming from Quercus over the next few months. As these show this is definitely a publisher to watch!


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Mike Stotter

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