'Dark comedy' from Mark Lawson to Picador

Picador publisher Paul Baggaley has bought "a wonderfully entertaining dark comedy of manners" by journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson.

Baggaley acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Deaths from agent Cat Ledger and will publish in September 2013.

The Deaths is the story of four families, part of the "new aristocracy" of financiers, business tycoons, lawyers and doctors, living in a beautiful stretch of English countryside in magnificent listed houses, built for the old aristocracy. "They leave their rural idyll only to commute first-class to London for meetings, deals and theatre outings or Heathrow flights to winter sun or half-term skiing," the publisher explains. "They and their children are protected by investments, pensions and expensive security systems.  But the money is running out in Britain and new divisions and connections develop between the group of
friends, until, finally, deep in the English winter, an unthinkable act of violence destroys these dream lives and demonstrates that the biggest threat may come from unexpected places."

Baggaley said The Deaths surpasses anything Lawson has written before. "Firstly Mark¹s love of crime fiction is shown in a brilliantly conceived and executed crime story. And secondly, Mark just knows how the aspiring and often appalling upper middle classes live: this is social satire told with forensic, devastating and often hilarious detail," he said.

Mark Lawson called the novel "a sort of whydunnit: flashing back from a massacre to explain the reasons for an apparently loving and successful man committing an act of multiple murder." He added: "I was also trying to write about an England in which certain long-established values - such as money, privacy and shame - seem to be running out simultaneously. A cultural commentator might describe it as 'The Archers directed by Quentin Tarantino', but you have to be careful with cultural commentators."

Lawson said he was delighted to continue a connection with Picador which now stretches across six books and 20 years. Lawson's most recent novel is Enough is Enough, published in 2005.