Waterstones employee signs deal for 'sizzling' debut

Waterstones employee signs deal for 'sizzling' debut

Simon & Schuster UK has signed a two-book deal for a “sizzling” debut police procedural by Waterstones Sheffield event manager Russ Thomas, following a four-way auction.

Editorial director Anne Perry has bought UK and Commonwealth rights in Firewatching, described as a blend of police procedural and psychological thriller aimed at fans of Tana French and “Broadchurch”.

The two-book deal was brokered by Sarah Manning of the Bent Agency following a "heated" four-way auction, according to an S&S UK spokesperson, and the first title will publish in spring 2020.

Six years ago, Gerald Cartwright vanished from his home in a village on the edge of the Peak District, the blurb for the “dark, twisty-turny” thriller reads. Did Gerald go on the run to escape his creditors, following a period of insider trading and embezzlement - or was there a more sinister explanation for his disappearance?

Detective Sargent Adam Tyler, a cold case specialist, is called back to Cartwright’s house as a body has just been discovered, bricked up behind a wall in the cellar six years after the disappearance. Tyler knows this case could make his career but the main suspect happens to be the missing man’s son - the same person Tyler slept with the night before.

A novel “which beautifully walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller”, Firewatching is targeted at readers of French, James Oswald and “Broadchurch”, and marks “the start of an unmissable new series”.

Thomas is a graduate of the Writing MA at Sheffield Hallam University and an events manager and expert bookseller for Waterstones Sheffield. He also teaches creative writing classes and runs a monthly book club.

Perry described how she “inhaled Firewatching in a single sitting”.

“Russ perfectly evokes the claustrophobic essence of small-town life, where everyone is involved in everyone’s business and where everyone seems to know just a little more than they’re saying,” she said. “Tyler himself is a brilliant creation, a character who sits easily amongst such luminaries as DCIs Banks, Tennison and Dalgliesh.”

Thomas said: “I'm absolutely thrilled to be signing with S&S and with Anne in particular. It's nothing less than a dream come true and I'm so glad that my dark, twisty-turny Firewatching has found its perfect home.”