HarperCollins has pre-empted a two book deal for Possession, a psychological thriller by J L Butler, for six figures, after a partial manuscript was submitted at London Book Fair last month.
Publisher Kimberley Young acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Eugenie Furniss at Furniss Lawton. Executive editor Kate Nintzel acquired the novel for William Morrow in the US. It now been sold in 10 territories, including eight pre-empts.
Sony Pictures pre-empted the film rights immediately after London Book Fair also in a six figure deal. Neal Moritz, producer of the Fast and the Furious franchise and "Passengers", is attached to produce.
Described as a "sexy psychological thriller with shades of 'Jagged Edge' and 'Fatal Attraction'", Possession follows Francine Day, a brilliant young divorce barrister who needs one headline case to be appointed to the Queen's Counsel. But things sour when she begins a reckless affair with her client Martin Joy and Joy’s wife goes missing. Is he a killer? Or will Francine risk everything to prove his innocence – even though that journey takes her very close to home?
Young said: "Butler’s writing is a commercial masterclass in how to keep a reader turning the pages – this is obsessive, compulsive reading and feels different to anything out there."
Nintzel said: "Butler has a gift for both pacing and character, and Possession, like the best thrillers out there, makes you question not only who committed the crime but who among the characters can be trusted."
Butler said: "I’m thrilled to be joining Harper Collins and William Morrow, two companies I have long admired for their smart, dynamic publishing. I’ve been passionate about Possession ever since the story first popped in my head and I’m so excited to have found such wonderful homes for it."
Butler is a British journalist and former lawyer.
Possession will be published in hardback in summer 2018.