HarperCollins has signed a two-book deal with spy fiction writer Charles Cumming.
Julia Wisdom, publisher, crime and thrillers, at HarperCollins acquired UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights in two espionage thrillers by Cumming. The deal was negotiated by Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK.
The new series about Box 88, a covert transatlantic spy agency which flies below the official radar, follows the story of Lachlan Kite, a young Scot who is recruited into Box 88 straight out of public school. The first book in the series is scheduled for autumn 2020.
The series will cover Kite’s career in the secret world from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the election of Donald Trump, moving between the not-so-recent past and the present-day, and will have an ongoing cast of characters whose lives are dramatised over a period of 30 years.
Wisdom said: "Charles Cumming is a wonderfully accomplished writer with a very distinctive approach to spy fiction. We think he has hit on a brilliant concept and we are incredibly excited to be in at the start of what we believe will be a game-changing series. The outline for the series had us all riveted and we are sure Charles is going to do something very special."
Cumming added: "Though linked as a long-running series, each novel will be an exciting, self-contained spy thriller set both in the present and in the past. The stories will be positioned on the hinge between fact and fiction, unfolding against the background of a real-world historical event which has had repercussions for the present day."
The author, who was born in Scotland in 1971, was approached for recruitment by MI6, an experience that inspired his first novel, A Spy by Nature. He has written several bestselling thrillers, including A Foreign Country (St Martins), which won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller and the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year. He has sold 324,977 books for £2.02m through Nielsen, with his bestseller A Foreign Country at 59,620 copies sold in paperback.
Francis said: "The novels follow Kite’s personal life, his relationships, the birth of his son, the loss and the gain of friendships, and measure the impact of three decades lived in the shadows as a secret servant of no fixed abode or identity. As much as the books will be exciting, edge-of-the-seat spy thrillers, they will also be rich character studies. I don’t think anyone else writing today can combine those two things more effectively than Charles Cumming."