Pan Macmillan has netted a “perfect summer thriller” set in Tuscany by Lizzy Barber, in a two-book deal.
Wayne Brookes, associate publisher, acquired world rights via Luigi Bonomi at Luigi Bonomi Associates. The first book, Out of Her Depth, will be published in trade paperback in January 2021, with a mass-market paperback edition to follow in May 2022.
The synopsis explains: “Out of Her Depth follows gap-year student Rachel as she finds a summer job in a Tuscan villa in Italy. Introduced to a cosmopolitan crowd of young people, all of whom are more privileged than her, Rachel soon realises that she is out of her depth. Smitten by her desire for Sebastian, she asks her new friend Diana to help her win his affection, only to discover that Diana has intentions of her own. Before too long, Rachel realises she is caught in a web of sexual desire and intrigue. The hot Italian sun, the good-looking people, along with the yachts, villas and self-confidence, all too soon become suffocating and destructive, and a headlong rush towards only one thing—murder.”
Brookes said: “I knew from the first line that I wanted to publish this book. Lizzy Barber depicts wonderfully the plight of a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks, falling into a situation that she simply cannot handle or comprehend. The scenes in Tuscany are so evocative you can almost feel the heat of the Italian sun and the scorching sexual tension between the characters. With shades of Patricia Highsmith, it’s the perfect summer thriller. Our intention is to publish an early trade paperback for our export markets, and then launch with an early e-book, and follow up with a mass-market summer paperback."
Barber, whose debut novel My Name is Anna (Century) was released in 2019, added: “I am so excited to be working with Wayne Brookes and the Pan Macmillan team. As a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels, the idea of writing a story of a young girl out of her depth in Italy (a place close to my heart) has always been a dream of mine. Wayne instantly grasped my vision for this novel and I feel enormously privileged to be working with him on this.”