The Bitter Trade

Calumny Spinks has plans. He wants to learn to read and write. He wants to run away to London. He wants to be a man with a craft, a Master Spinks. But it is 1688, England is tearing itself apart in a religious battle that is soon to topple the king, and his father has a secret. A secret that is sure to ruin them all.

watch trailer

About the author

The Bitter Trade is Piers Alexander’s debut novel and the first in a trilogy, book two will be launched on the 15th of March and can be found here. Piers, who is also a serial media entrepreneur, lives in London with the singer-songwriter and author Rebecca Promitzer.

Read More

Why We Like It

  • FREE and revolutionary surround-sound audio stave for every subscriber every week.
  • The seventeenth-century streets are so well-drawn you can almost smell them.
  • Calumny Spinks is the most compelling character you'll read this year.

Meet Piers

Piers Alexander was born in England but brought up in Luxembourg in a 1970s, expat society. After a return to Britain, and the ensuing culture shock, he studied Politics and imagined himself President-for-life of the entire world. Fortunately, he started meeting girls instead. This led to him meeting the most interesting of all girls, Rebecca, and marriage followed five years later. Along with a dog called Lulu. 

After the requisite years as a wage-slave, he quit his job at 30, borrowed some money and began a short stint in corporate life. But he’s jacked much of that in so that he can dedicate himself to time-travel via words. It's taken a little longer than he thought. It was harder than he thought. He got way more broke than he had ever considered possible. And it has been the best time of his life. The Bitter Trade is the first book in a trilogy.

TLC's Pen Factor Winner 2013
Global Ebook Award Winner 2014, Modern European Historical Fiction

“A fantastic debut novel”

Robert Elms, BBC Radio London, Londonist’s Novel To Stay In And Read, January 2015


“This is an epic adventure, full of pungent period detail, a Dickensian cast of vibrant characters, plus a complex and brilliantly conceived plot which makes your head spin. 17th century London comes fully to life, with all its triumphs and inequalities, colour, texture and structure. One of those worlds you absorb so wholly, you itch to return. The language deserves a special mention. This is a beautifully written story, a master class in voice, character and description. So many lines stopped me in my tracks to just admire the craftsmanship of this prose.”

JJ Marsh, Bookmuse


“The ambitious, cheeky Calumny Spinks is a great guide through the sensory overload of 17th century London, in an adventure that combines unexpected insights with just the right amount of rollicking ribaldry. I hope it’s the opener to a series.”

Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May novels


“This debut novel is a gripping evocation of late seventeenth century London, rich in persuasive dialect and period detail and with a bold protagonist. An unusual thriller that just keeps you wanting to know more about the many facets of this story. You’ll never view your coffee in quite the same way again.”

Daniel Pembrey, bestselling author of The Candidate


Perhaps the best book I’ve read this year. Rollicking historical fiction set in 17th century London. It’s brilliant. Read it!”

David Gaughran, bestselling author of Mercenary and A Storm Hits Valparaiso


A very exciting and superbly researched novel

Mel Ulm, The Reading Life


An excellent debut novel by a talented author. Piers Alexander will be a writer to watch

The Historical Novel Society


“The author creates a rich, evocative impression of life in the city of London through the eyes of his colourful cast. The ever twisting plot, beginning in an Essex backwater before reaching the fetid stench of London, is full of lust, crime, corruption and downright malevolence… Although indelibly grubby, the metropolitan stage forms the perfect counterpoint to this wonderfully spun novel that is lucid, lurid and fleet-of-foot… An addictive read that assaulted my sense.The Bitter Trade is very highly recommended.”

Tim Beresford, Miniature Wargames and Battlegames – MWBG Award for Excellence, Your Living City’s Top 5 Books for Autumn 2014

With special thanks to Jessica Bell for her beautiful banner design, for more information please go to her website. Further thanks goes to barista photographer extraordinaire, Christian Gaetani, for his tile pictures, to contact him please tweet @CM_Gaetani.

The incredible 5D Audio staves were recorded and produced by 5A Studios, to learn more about the future of sound, plug yourself in to their website.


Join our commmunity of readers or read with friends in your own private book club.


And read it in bite-sized instalments – called staves – that fit busy modern lives.


Save your favourite bits and leave thoughts to connect with fellow readers.


Beautiful extras in the margins immerse you in the world of each book.

More about us