Editorial director Melissa Cox's first acquisition at Hodder & Stoughton is a fiction debut, The Wicked Cometh, by Laura Carlin.
Cox, who joined Hodder from Waterstones, where she was head of books, in September 2016, pre-empted world rights for a two-book deal from Laura Macdougall at Tibor Jones and promised that readers would not be able to "put the book down".
The Wicked Cometh, publishing on 8th February 2018, is an historical novel set in an atmospheric London with a love story at its heart. Its author turned to writing after 28 years of working for a local bank.
Set between the reign of the Regency dandy and the moral exactitude of the Victorian era, the book tells the story of how acts of unspeakable wickedness are left unchecked down the darkest London streets and alleyways, "acts and some of the poorest in society are disappearing, with no one willing to speak for them". But Hester White, a bright young woman from the slums of Bethnal Green, refuses to let the truth stay buried. "When she is thrust by chance into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, Hester sees an opportunity to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock," the publisher said. An intimacy develops between the pair that will "cross every boundary Hester has ever known".
Cox said: "Laura is a tremendously exciting new talent and I was delighted to find so many of the elements I love best in historical fiction within The Wicked Cometh; it has a perfectly realised atmospheric London, a tender, slow-burning love story, and a mystery that unspools in a way that will leave readers unable to put the book down. We are absolutely thrilled to be launching Laura Carlin’s writing career at Hodder, and we can’t wait to share this book with the world."
Carlin said: "Inspired by an obscure and inglorious event in British history, I hope to have created a novel that breathes life into a story of intrigue, love, conflict and resilience. As a debut author, it is a privilege to be working with someone of Melissa’s calibre, with her industry experience and her love of literature. Her enthusiasm and vision for the book is extremely exciting and I couldn’t be more thrilled with this opportunity."
The Wicked Cometh will be published in hardback and e-book on 8th February 2018.