Georgia Fancett from Bath has picked up a £20,000 publishing contract with Century for her "hard-hitting" police procedural The Fifth Girl, her prize after winning the Daily Mail and Penguin Random House's First Novel Competition, now in its third year.
Chosen from over 2,500 entries and from a shortlist of five, Fancett, 51, was judged the unanimous winner by the competition's panel of judges, comprising industry experts Sandra Parsons, literary editor for the Daily Mail, Selina Walker, publisher of Century and Arrow at PRH, Luigi Bonomi, managing director at LBA, TV presenter Fern Britton and author Simon Kernick.
She will now receive a £20,000 advance for her novel, which will be published in hardback and e-book by Century, and be agented by Luigi Bonomic of LBA Books.
The Fifith Girl is described as "a hard-hitting police procedural novel in which four girls have been found murdered in similarly gruesome circumstances" by the Daily Mail, featuring a gay detective, DI Alice Warnes, who is paired with "a lazy, Trump-loving bigot" for her fellow detective partner.
Walker said the judges had been pleased with the quality, confidence and variety of the entires they received. "This year our shortlisted entries ranged from historical fiction to psychological suspense, from romantic comedy, to police procedural, and although our decision as to the winner was unanimous, we as judges felt we’d had lots to choose from, and that the standard of the entries was high," she said.
"The winning entry and the four short-listed authors have created worlds we can walk into, and characters that I wanted to spend time with and find out more about. There is a confidence in their writing that suggests to me they will finish their novels, and the stories they are telling are strong and distinctive."
The four runners up are: In Plain Sight by Rebecca Williams, The Faceless Descent by Isabella Harcourt, How to Marry your Husband by Jacqueline Rohen and The Sins by Jez Pinfold.
The inaugural winner of the prize in 2016 was The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd, a Richard and Judy bookclub pick which has seen translation rights sell in 18 countries and film rights acquired by E1 Entertainment, the studio behind "Girl on the Train" and "Gone Girl". Last year's winner in 2017 was My Name is Alice by Lizzy Barber, a book which published in hardback on 10th January 2018, and to which US rights have sold to Mira, an imprint of Harlequin/HarperCollins, "with other deals under negotiation".