Thriller-seekers strike big deals

Thriller-seekers strike big deals

The popularity of psychological thrillers shows little sign of abating, with commissioning editors at the London Book Fair signing up many such titles—including one pre-empted for a seven-figure sum in the US.

Sphere publishing director Lucy Malagoni snapped up UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy from Jenny Meyer, acting on behalf of Elisabeth Weed at The Book Group, and plans to publish the title in 2018. The thriller, set in the wake of the abduction of a six-week-old baby, was pre-empted by HarperCollins in the US for seven figures.

Film rights to the title were sold to TriStar, with actor Kerry Washington to star and Amy Pascal to lead production. The book has sold in 12 territories to date, with Malagoni stating that “the writing really gets under your skin”.

Sphere also signed a “high- concept” thriller, with commissioning editor Lucy Dauman securing world English-language rights to S R Mastrantone’s début, The Killer You Know, from Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson. The novel follows of a circle of friends who get together for a reunion—and discover that one of them is a serial killer. Dauman said the book, set for spring 2018, had “unforgettable characters” and an “edge of your seat plot”.

At yesterday’s fair Simon & Schuster also sealed a suspenseful novel, Something in the Water by actor Catherine Steadman (pictured), after editorial director Anne Perry bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Camilla Wray of Darley Anderson in a two-book deal. Due in July 2018, the first book in the deal follows “perfect couple” Erin and Mark, who are honeymooning in Tahiti when they find a bag full of money. Perry likened the plot thereafter to “A Simple Plan” crossed with The Couple Next Door.

Steadman has acted in leading roles in dramas broadcast on the BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 4, as well as on stage in the West End.