Harvill Secker will publish Nicholas Shakespeare’s new literary thriller, featuring a former foreign correspondent battling sinister forces in Oxford, billed as a "new direction" in the author's career.
Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to literary thriller The Sandpit, by the novelist and non-fiction writer. Rights were acquired from Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander and Harvill Secker will publish in June 2020.
The novel follows ex-foreign correspondent John Dyer who returns to Oxford from Brazil with his young son Leandro and mistakenly expects a quiet life.
"The rainy streets of this English city turn out to be just as treacherous as those he used to walk in the favelas," the publisher said. "Leandro’s schoolmates are the children of oligarchs, diplomats and international financiers, who congregate round the sports field for the weekly football matches.
"The network of alliances and covert interests that spreads between these power brokers soon becomes clear to Dyer, but it is a chance conversation with an Iranian nuclear scientist, Rustum Marvar, father of a friend of Leandro, that sets him onto a truly dangerous path.
"When Marvar and his son disappear, several sinister factions seem acutely interested in Marvar’s research at the Clarendon Lab, and what he might have told Dyer about it, given Dyer was the last person to see Marvar alive."
Foley said: "We are so excited by this new direction in Nicholas’ fiction career. The Sandpit is a sophisticated literary thriller with a brilliantly drawn protagonist.
"In both his non-fiction and his fiction Nicholas is brilliant at showing the personal and political motivations behind events of world-changing significance and he brings his full dramatic powers to bear in this gripping narrative.”
The author was born in England and grew up in Far East and Latin America. He has written a number of novel and non-fiction books, most recently history title Six Minutes in May, which was published by Harvill Secker in 2017.