Transworld has acquired a debut thriller, The Couple Next Door, in a "hotly contested" auction.
The book, authored by Shari Lapena, describes a young couple who leave their six-month-old daughter at home to attend "a boozy dinner party" trusting that "half-hourly checks" will suffice. They however return home to discover she has been taken. The book asks readers "to imagine what we might do" and "how would you cope when tested to the very limit".
Frankie Gray, senior commissioning editor at Transworld, acquired British Commonwealth rights including audio to The Couple Next Door and another as-yet-untitled novel by Shari Lapena at auction, from Helen Heller at the Helen Heller Agency.
Gray said: "We’re all familiar with the enduring fascination writers, publishers and readers have shown for unreliable storytelling and characters that elude easy categorisation. The Couple Next Door, whilst delivering this experience, also offers something new. It is fresh and distinctive and the whole team at Transworld were unanimously gripped. It showcases Shari’s exceptional narrative talent, with an intriguing premise, inescapable propulsion through the pages, and twists and turns aplenty. We cannot wait to introduce readers to this addictive novel."
Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before writing fiction. She said: "I am absolutely thrilled to have found a home with Transworld. It’s very exciting to be working with such a talented team!"
Pam Dorman Books (Penguin Random House) will publish in the US, and Doubleday in Canada. Camilla Ferrier and Jemma McDonagh at the Marsh Agency have sold rights in Germany (Luebbe), Holland (Prometheus), Italy (Mondadori), Spain (Penguin Random House), France (Presses de la Cite), Taiwan (China Times), Denmark (Gyldendal DK), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Finland (Otava), Brazil (Record), Israel (Miskal), Hungary (Alexandra), Czech Republic (Euromedia), Iceland (Bjatur), Slovakia (Fortuna Libri), Turkey (Dogan Kitap), Poland (Zysk), Portugal (Presenca), Russia (AST) and Sweden (Modernista).
Transworld will publish in hardback in July 2016.