Hodder & Stoughton has pre-empted two standalone crime novels from Emma Haughton, with The Dark to be published as a "major" launch title for the publisher next summer.
Jo Dickinson, publisher of the crime & thriller list, acquired world rights from Mark Stanton and Julie Fergusson at The North Literary Agency. The Dark will be published in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio in August 2021.
Foreign rights are being handled by Rebecca Folland and Melis Dagoglu, with the Hodder rights team seeing "significant" interest in international markets.
The Dark will be a "locked room" thriller set in Antarctica. The synopsis reads: "In the most inhospitable environment—cut off from the rest of the world—there’s a killer on the loose. A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the opportunity. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice. The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all."
A launch platform for the book has been set up and readers can sign up for the chance to receive a limited-edition early proof.
Dickinson said: "The first few lines of the pitch letter intrigued me immensely and I read the script in an afternoon and completely fell for it. Beautifully written, tense and clever, I was both terrified and thrilled by The Dark. It will be a major title for the rights team this autumn, and a priority launch title for Hodder in 2021."
Haughton commented: "I was thrilled by the enthusiastic reception for The Dark from Jo and her colleagues at Hodder, and I’m delighted to be working with such a dedicated and dynamic publishing team. I couldn’t have hoped for a better home for the book."
Haughton has previously written non-fiction books for schools and YA thrillers such as Now You See Me (Usborne, 2014) and Better Left Buried (Usborne, 2015).