Sphere will publish A Plot to Kill: A True Story of Deception, Betrayal and Murder in a Quiet English Town, from criminologist David Wilson.
Editorial director Rhiannon Smith acquired world rights (excluding US, the Philippines and Canada) from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown. Nicky Crane, commissioning editor, will publish the book while Smith is on leave.
The book will focus on the murder of Peter Farquhar, a 69-year-old English lecturer and novelist who thought he had found love with a student of his, 40 years his junior. Little did he know Benjamin Field had been grooming him for years, using his faith, sexuality and love of literature to manipulate and isolate him.
Wilson will use forensic analysis and "fascinating" personal insight to show readers how Farquhar unwittingly supplied the blueprint for his own murder, how a tight-knit community failed to intervene, and how an undetected psychopath could have easily become one of the most prolific serial killers in history, says the publisher.
Crane commented: "David Wilson’s chilling new book, which considers the ways the elderly are invisible in our culture—making them prime targets for fraud, scams and even murder—could not be more relevant today. Covid-19 has shown us how forgetting the elderly and failing to protect the vulnerable can have disastrous consequences. It’s also a little-known fact that the elderly are the group most targeted by British serial killers. David is the perfect author to unpack this case, as he uses his personal connections and knowledge as a criminologist to understand who was truly responsible for Peter Farquhar’s murder. This is essential reading for any true crime aficionado, and I can’t wait to publish David again with Sphere."
Wilson said: "Despite working with some of our most notorious murderers and serial killers, this murder in my own home town shocked me. It's a murder that doesn't just involve a perpetrator grooming an older victim; Benjamin Field groomed the entire town where he lived, the university he attended, and the church where he worshipped. He was even training to become a priest. I hope the book will prompt discussion about the lessons that should be learned from what this case, and force the institutions that prop up ‘middle England’, especially the Church of England, to take action."
Sphere previously published Wilson's Hunting Evil (2008), The Lost British Serial Killer (2010), A History of British Serial Killing (2020), Signs of Murder (2020) and his autobiography, My Life with Murderers (2019).
Plot to Kill: A True Story of Deception, Betrayal and Murder in a Quiet English Town will publish in hardback, e-book and audio on 18th March 2021.