Harvill Secker has acquired a "heart-stopping" standalone psychological thriller Here and Gone by Haylen Beck.
The book, said to appeal to fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn, is set to be Vintage’s lead thriller next year and will publish in April 2017.
It begins on a desolate road in Arizona where Audra is fleeing her abusive husband in the family car. Her children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. Desperate not to draw attention, Audra is petrified when she is pulled over by the local sheriff. What happens next is every parent’s worst nightmare: one minute her children were here, the next they were gone.
UK, Commonwealth and European rights (excluding the US and Canada) were acquired from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein.
Rights were pre-empted by Crown in a "significant" US deal, and it will be published in several international territories following "high-octane" auctions in countries including Germany, France, Israel, and the Czech Republic.
Film rights have already been optioned by Meridian Entertainment, with an adaptation to be co-produced by James Schamus, the writer of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" who has directed an adaptation of Philip Roth’s Indignation, out this November.
The book is said to mark "a thrilling new direction" for Stuart Neville, for whom Haylen Beck is a pseudonym for novels inspired by his love of American crime writing. A second standalone Haylen Beck novel will be published in 2018.
Neville said: "Writing as Haylen Beck has allowed me to tell a different kind of story inspired by my travels in America. Here and Gone is the type of high-concept flat-out thriller that I’ve always loved to read, and I hope others will enjoy it too. I look forward to working with the teams at Vintage in the UK, and Crown in the US, to bring this book to as many readers as possible."
Geoff Mulligan, Neville’s long-time editor, said: "I’ve never read an opening chapter that had me so gripped and desperate to race to the finish. Within hours I had had an unprecedented response from fervent colleagues buzzing with excitement. We are certain that Here and Gone is set to become a word-of-mouth sensation with readers."
Liz Foley, Harvill Secker publishing director, said: "From its heart-stopping opening scene to its dramatic finale, Here and Gone is a truly exceptional thriller. It has the gripping qualities of a Linwood Barclay or Harlan Coben plot with the emotional punch of Clare Mackintosh’s writing. We are hugely excited about making sure everyone is reading it come April next year."