Transworld has beaten off three other UK publishers in "the hottest fiction auction of the summer".
The publisher bought world English rights in thriller debut The Girl on the Train by British author Paula Hawkins, in a "substantial" deal thought to be well into six figures.
Publishing director Sarah Adams acquired The Girl on the Train, and a second novel, from Lizzy Kremer at David Higham Associates.
The novel is described as a "a creepy study in human frailty and obsession" and "a stealthily cool psychological thriller which will be enjoyed by fans of S J Watson, Sophie Hannah and Gillian Flynn". The novel is a commuter's story, involving glimpses into what is happening in the houses the train speeds past.
Hawkins said: "Like most Londoners, I’ve spent more hours than I’d like to think about shuttling backwards and forwards on trains to various jobs in various parts of the city, and many of those hours have been spent gazing out of windows at the same streets and the same houses, every now and again catching a glimpse into the lives of others.
"I find that there’s something so intriguing about those snatched glances into strangers’ lives, partly because they’re so frustratingly fleeting, so you only ever see a tiny sliver of a story.
"I think it’s possible for someone who’s feeling lonely and isolated in a big city to feel they are actually forming a connection with the people they see every day—other commuters, or the people whose houses they pass by—without there really being any meaningful contact. The strangers you see on the train or pass in the street on your commute are so familiar to you that you feel as though you know them; when really you have no clue about their lives."
Adams said the novel had caused "an enormous stir across the whole team within 24 hours of arriving on my desk", calling it an "exquisitely structured, twisty, unpredictable novel [that] creeps right under your skin in the unsettling, addictive tradition of Before I Go to Sleep, Rear Window and Gone Girl".
The novel will be a Doubleday hardcover in spring 2015.