Foot and mouth outbreak recalled in new crime novel


A new crime novel based in the Lake District will be set against the backdrop of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

Burning Secret by Ruth Sutton is a vivid reminder of the tragedy of epic proportions that afflicted so many lives.

But first funding to publish the book has to be raised, with the author now represented by an unusual new publishing venture, Unbound.

The organisation was set up to help authors who would otherwise self-publish, and they help writers with crowdfunding schemes to get their books into print.

Ruth Sutton, who lives in West Cumbria, has already successfully self-published a family trilogy and two crime novels.

ruth portrait

Ruth Sutton

“Unbound are part of a new wave of publishers who work with authors on a 50:50 basis to get their books out. The first run is paid for by a kind of ‘crowd-funding’, hence the lower risk and ability to split profits with the author. It’s an exciting development.”

Her new novel looks behind the scenes in Cumbria in 2001 when millions of animals were slaughtered, families torn apart, farms barricaded, communities paralysed, and businesses lost.

“Many individual lives were changed forever, and Burning Secret is about some of those. At the heart of it are the innocents, threatened by events they could neither prevent nor control, and those who try to protect them.”

The book also introduces two female detectives who look set to get the pages turning, reflecting the prevailing ambivalence in policing as old methods and attitudes give way to new. DS Anna Penrose’s career has been unusual, with a degree and army service in Bosnia before she joined the force. Her promotion is rumoured to be about gender, not merit. She is hot on budgetary efficiency, performance targets and painstaking evidence gathering.

Her sidekick, DC Maureen Pritchard, by contrast, was a hairdresser before she joined the force. She has little patience with trendy ideas about gender, thinks of herself as ‘one of the lads’, and prefers intuition to fancy forensics. For Maureen, ‘targets’ are to be shot at.

Unbound publishers say: “We believe that everyone should be given the chance to seize their own success, and that great ideas shouldn’t fall between the cracks because they don’t fit the mould. And that’s what we’ve built – a better way of doing things. It’s a community, platform and a publishing model that shift the balance of power to you, people and communities that champion underserved ideas and voices.”

Anyone who wants to help get Burning Secret published can make a pledge at

Ruth Sutton’s earlier books can be found at


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