The News

An innocent man's terrible dilemma

Condemn his cousin to the guillotine...

…Or serve 40 years himself on Devil's Island?

The Guillotine Choice, the new novel by Michael J Malone, is the astonishing true account of one man’s experience of a hell on earth that few of us could ever hope to survive: the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony.

Packed with all the drama of The Shawshank Redemption and Papillon, The Guillotine Choice, published on March 13, tells the story of an uncommon man – Kaci Mohand Saoudi – whose dignity triumphed over despair in unimaginably horrific conditions. The novel was written in collaboration with Kaci’s son, Bashir Saoudi.

Bashir says, ‘My father’s life is an inspiration and serves as an education to all of our children. It has been a dream of mine for thirty years to have this story told, and my deepest thanks are due to Michael Malone whose eye for detail, his patience and his storytelling ability have all helped to make this book everything I hoped for.

‘I feel that I got to know my father better through the thirty years of research that went into this project. This book is a way to thank him and to say what I should have told him in the living years, that is: Dad, I love you.’ 

The novel begins in 1920s French-controlled Algeria, when Kaci Mohand Saoudi was in the frame for the brutal murder of his French boss. He is faced with a stark choice: win freedom by naming the killer and thus condemning him to the guillotine, or keep quiet and face a never-ending sentence in the infamous devil’s Island penal colony?

Kaci, just 20 years old, must choose between an eternity of guilt and shame... or a lifetime of physical suffering and mental anguish.

Contraband: Saraband's new crime fiction imprint

Saraband's new crime fiction imprint, Contraband, will launch in the Spring of 2014 with a promise to publish some of the most exciting new voices in crime, mystery and thriller writing.

Publisher Sara Hunt said, ‘Our new imprint will provide readers with a diverse selection of crime, mystery and thriller titles, ranging from pacy detective stories to intriguing enigmas. Most importantly, we want to publish a wide variety of styles so that readers can easily find the kind of book they know they’ll love, but also have the opportunity to take a leap and hopefully discover something new and exciting.’

Contraband will kick off in the Spring as it means to go on, with three very different titles: the astonishing true story of one man’s years in the world’s worst prison; a hard-bitten tartan noir; and a literary mystery novel set in France. 

Saraband, which won the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Award in 2013, already has a great track record for giving a platform to talented authors, with the last twelve months in particular seeing the publication of exciting new literary fiction, engrossing non-fiction and moving memoirs. The new Contraband imprint will now see us building a strong list of talented crime, mystery and thriller writers.

Contraband’s first three titles (all available as print and ebook editions) are:

The Guillotine Choice by Michael J Malone and Bashir Saoudi. With all the drama of The Shawshank Redemption and Papillon, this is the astonishing account of one man’s experience of a hell on earth that few of us could ever hope to survive. March 2014.

Falling Fast by Neil Broadfoot. An edge-of-your-seat tartan noir thriller that sees crime reporter Doug McGregor uncovering a story riddled with secrets, violence, drug abuse, murder… and the ultimate taboo. May 2014.

The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet. An ill-at-ease outsider in small-town France is pushed to the limit by his own fevered imagination. July 2014. 

Nature writing at its very best

We're very proud to to announce that Saraband will shortly be publishing the new book by Jim Crumley, one of the country’s most renowned nature writers. The Eagle's Way, published on 13 March, sees Jim Crumley soaring to new heights with beautifully descriptive prose that is the product of his many years of observing golden eagles and his fascination for their evolving interaction with sea eagles. The result is an intimate portrait of these spectacular birds.

In The Eagle's Way - which also features stunning photographs by Laurie Campbell - Jim asserts that sea eagles are, perhaps surprisingly, now present in central and Highland areas of Scotland – away from their coastal strongholds. He argues this is compelling evidence that they ‘remember’ the Scottish landscape, even though they were originally wiped out in the early 20th century.

Sea eagles were reintroduced to Scotland’s west coast in 1975 and, since then, the magnificent bird of prey has flourished. A further reintroduction programme saw sea eagles arrive on the east coast’s Tay estuary in recent years. Their increasing presence from coast to coast is a huge consideration for all nature, for golden eagles in particular, and even for people, some of whom have already had to adapt to a new definition of the word 'eagle'.

Jim says, ‘There’s a wedge of land 130 miles long and a few miles wide between Dundee and the Isle of Mull that is being adopted by eagles as a kind of thoroughfare between strongholds. The east coast birds seem to be aware of the Mull population despite never having been there before. The perplexing question is: how do they know?

‘I think they find each other because it is in the nature of sea eagles. The fact that there was no sustained sea eagle presence in Scotland between 1918 and 1975 does not wipe from the bird’s consciousness every sliver of awareness of thousands of years of occupation of this landscape, of the highways and flyways between Highland and Lowland Scotland.’

Combining passion, a lyrical writing style and the Jim’s 25 years of living, breathing and writing the landscape, The Eagle’s Way explores the controversies surrounding these birds. What now for the eagles? And how will they transform our skies?


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