An exciting debut author, whose book has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize 2018. Set in London in 1785, merchant John Hancock is told by one of his ship’s captains that he has sold the ship for a dead creature that appears to be a mermaid. But rather than becoming magical realism, the strange creature recedes into the background and the story is then about what happens to John Hancock as a result. It’s a highly commercial era in London; foreign trade is booming, the economy is changing, affluence is surging and with it a restructuring of social classes. Hancock discovers that people are prepared to pay see to this strange phenomenon, and his increased wealth gives him access to wider social circles. He meets courtesan Angelica Neal and is enamoured. The dead mythical creature is offset against a world buzzing with commercial transaction and opportunity, and human interaction is just another transaction for personal gain. Atmosphere is superbly captured, and the prose vivid in its descriptions of this era. Wonderful!