John Blake, part of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired Justice for Helen by Marie McCourt, which will tell the story of her battle to find her daughter’s body and prevent any other family from suffering the same experience as her family's by campaigning for Helen's Law.
Ciara Lloyd, editorial director for John Blake (currently on maternity leave), acquired world all language rights from Robert Smith of the Robert Smith Literary Agency. The book is being overseen by Justine Taylor, editorial manager at John Blake, in Lloyd’s absence.
On 9th February 1988, 22-year-old Helen McCourt left her office in Liverpool city centre and began her usual commute home. She was never seen again. Within days, local pub landlord Ian Simms had been arrested and charged with her murder. Despite Helen’s body not being found, a mass of incontrovertible DNA and witness evidence at his trial 12 months later resulted in a life sentence. To this day, he has never revealed the body’s whereabouts.
Overnight, Marie McCourt went from an "ordinary, introverted, working mum" to a "determined searcher and tenacious campaigner" for victims of homicide as she campaigned for Helen's Law — legislation that recognises the distress caused to families of missing murder victims. The law was given Royal Assent in November 2020.
Justice for Helen will chart this journey and is billed as "an incredible story of grief and loss, determination and strength, fortitude and resilience as one mother sets out to put right an appalling wrong". The book is co-written by journalist Fiona Duffy and will be published on 4th February 2021, to coincide with the 33rd anniversary of Helen's murder.
Taylor said: "I seriously respect Marie: she is an extraordinary woman. Together with Fiona they have written a book that must be read by all for its sheer fight, determination and love. It is an eye-opener and very honest first-person account of what it is like for families in this position. I would strongly advise readers keep tissues to hand."
McCourt said: "Helen’s Law is not just for Helen but for every other missing murder victim out there – and their tortured families. I hope Justice for Helen gives others the strength to make a stand, fight for what is right, and be heard. I am so proud to have created a legacy in my daughter’s name and hope that, as a result, Helen McCourt will never, ever be forgotten."
Duffy added: "Marie is, quite simply, the most amazing woman I have ever met and I feel privileged and honoured to have been on this journey for justice with her. If there was ever a story that needed to be told – and read – it is this."