Former Waterstones staffer Alice Slater’s debut thriller, Death of a Bookseller, has gone to Hodder & Stoughton in a three-way auction.
For her first acquisition at Hodder, commissioning editor Beth Wickington acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for two books from Zoe Ross at United Agents.
The synopsis reads: “Roach, a bookseller and a loner, is content to spend her days hoarding true crime proofs, listening to murder podcasts, and sneering at the predictable tastes of her ‘normie’ customers. That is, until Laura joins the bookshop. Everyone loves Laura, with her neat outfits, literary tote bags, and beautiful poetry. But Laura has a dark side that only Roach can see, and when Roach uncovers her tragic past, curiosity blooms into obsession. As Roach’s boundaries disintegrate, it becomes clear that she will do anything to infiltrate Laura’s life – and at any cost. Bringing together toxic female relationships and our cultural obsession with true crime, Death of a Bookseller is a compulsively readable roller-coaster of suspense that prompts discussion and reflection about the ethics of true crime and who really owns the stories we tell.”
Slater spent six years working as a bookseller with Waterstones. She started as a Christmas temp in Manchester Deansgate and worked her way up to bookshop manager of Romford, then Gower Street’s fiction section, and eventually Notting Hill Gate, lending a hand in 20 different branches across the UK on the way. Now a London-based writer, she is a co-host of literary podcast "What Page Are You On?" and writes about short stories for Mslexia.
Death of a Bookseller is to be published in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio in spring 2023, as a focus title for the company with an ambitious marketing and publicity campaign behind it. Translation rights have so far been pre-empted in Italy and Greece and sold at auction in Spain.
Wickington said: “When I first read Death of a Bookseller, I could think of nothing else for days afterwards. Completely addictive, deliciously dark and with an underlying commentary on our unsettling cultural obsession with true crime, this is a book that truly has it all. I know that the world and characters that Alice has brought to life in Death of a Bookseller will stay with me for a long time, and I can’t wait for them to burrow into readers’ minds and keep them awake all night, as I promise they will.”
Slater said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have found a home for Death of a Bookseller at Hodder & Stoughton. Roach came to me as an idle thought during a long, lonely shift in an empty bookshop, and I can’t wait to set her free on unsuspecting bookshops once more. I’m so grateful to my wonderful new editor Bethany Wickington, and relieved that she isn’t afraid of creepy crawlies.
Ross added: "I’m thrilled that Alice and her cast of unforgettable characters have found an ideal home with Hodder. This book will be such enormous fun to see evolve over coming months, and I cannot wait for it to be in readers’ hands."