Little, Brown has acquired three books by journalist Jane Harper.
Clare Smith, publishing director at Little, Brown/Abacus, bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Australia New Zealand, to The Dry and two other books from Alice Lutyens at Curtis Brown.
Rights have been sold in separate auctions to Flatiron in the US (Flatiron) and Macmillan in Australia New Zealand, and in 10 foreign territories.
The Dry is a “compulsive and thoughtfully subtle thriller set in a drought-stricken small Australian country town where it hasn’t rained for two years, tensions are heightened when Luke Hadler turns his gun on his wife, small boy and then himself”.
Policeman Aaron Falk returns for the funeral of his childhood friend, and although it seems obvious that Luke committed the crime, Falk begins questioning and is “soon drawn in deep as the secrets of his own past emerge more powerfully than ever”.
Smith said: “It is thrilling to read a debut where the writing is so extraordinarily polished and assured. The Dry maintains the delicate balance of unfolding the two central mysteries, the outcomes of which are at the same time both surprising yet never implausible. As the secrets and lies of past and present are revealed, the reader is kept in breathless anticipation about what happened, and why.”
Harper, originally from the UK, has worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK. She lives in Melbourne and currently writes for the Herald Sun.
The Dry will be Little, Brown’s lead debut fiction launch for 2017.