Transworld has acquired in a "speedy" and "significant" pre-empt author Lesley Kara's debut thriller, The Rumour, loosely inspired by the real-life case of child killer Mary Bell.
Sarah Adams, fiction publisher at Transworld Publishers, acquired two thrillers - debut The Rumour and a second novel, Who Did You Tell? - in a deal with Amanda Preston at LBA.
Exploring "how rumours wreck lives", the plot follows what happens when a young mother, desperate to ingratiate herself with a clique of other mothers at the school gates, shares a rumour that a child killer of 30 years ago has been released and is living in the same small seaside town under a new identity.
Adams called it "chillingly plausible" and as "gripping as promised".
"Lesley is such a smart, intuitive writer," she said. "She has a killer instinct for creating relatable characters and tapping into the paranoia and fear of a close seaside community threatened by a dark secret. The idea of an innocent piece of gossip that quickly becomes a dangerous rumour is chillingly plausible, and Lesley sets up the best kind of puzzle as she masterfully spins you every which way. My colleagues and I are very excited to be working with Lesley and we can't wait to introduce her books to many readers."
Debut author Kara was the runner up in the PRH/Daily Mail First Crime Novel Competition 2017 and is an alumna of the Faber Academy "Writing a Novel" course. She said: "I’d convinced myself that nothing like this would ever happen to me and now that it has, I’m beyond thrilled. I can’t wait to start working with Sarah Adams and the rest of the team at Transworld who have a phenomenal track record launching debut novels. Immense thanks also to my brilliant agent Amanda Preston and all at LBA."
The Rumour will be published in hardcover in January 2019, with Who Did You Tell? to follow a year later.