Faber is mad on what makes us bad

Faber is mad on what makes us bad

Faber has triumphed in a 13-way auction for a "riveting exploration of evil" by a renowned British forensic psychiatrist, with the title subject of intense international interest.

Editorial director Laura Hassan snapped up UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to The Devil You Know: Understanding Human Evil by Dr Gwen Adshead, co-written by author and dramatist Eileen Horne. The deal was struck by Sophie Lambert at C+W. Lambert’s colleague Anna Stein inked a "significant" US deal with Scribner, and there have been pre-empts in Italy (Mondadori), Brazil (Companhia), and Russia (AST).

Adshead is one of the UK’s most prominent forensic psychiatrists and is a visiting professor at Yale University. For more than 20 years she has worked at Broadmoor, the high-security psychiatric hospital that houses some of the UK’s most notorious criminals, including the "Son of God" murderer Richard Torto and Charles Gonzalez, a.k.a. Charles Bronson, dubbed "the country’s most violent man" by tabloids. Past inmates include "The Yorkshire Ripper" Peter Sutcliffe and gangsters Ronald Kray and "Mad" Frankie Fraser.

In the book, Adshead will argue that every person has the potential for evil. Her patients have often been reviled, but "before they crossed that ultimate line—taking or destroying another life—many were ordinary people".

Hassan said the title "invites us to meditate on redemption, and question human nature itself", adding: "[Adshead’s] deeply sensitive and empathetic storytelling brings patients to life in a remarkably three-dimensional way that restores their humanity. She fascinatingly explores psychological complexities as well as ethical dilemmas... It’s unsettling reading, but, like the best non-fiction, it has the power to explode our assumptions, whether about the nature of evil, society’s attitude towards punishment or the possibility of rehabilitation."