Trapeze has scooped a “magical” historical crime novel from debut author T A Willberg in a two-book deal.
Commissioning editor Katie Brown bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Marion Lane and the Inquirers will be published in hardback, ebook and audio in spring 2021. North American rights have also been bought at auction by Laura Brown at HarperCollins imprint Park Row Books.
Its synopsis explains: “Set in 1950s London, the series follows a bright young woman whose detective training with a mysterious league of inquirers becomes compromised when one of their own is murdered in this thrilling locked room mystery, reminiscent of Magpie Murders (Orion) and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Raven).
Brown said: “I fell in love with this magical book, and its eponymous character, after only a few pages. With the backdrop of post-war London and the secrets hidden beneath the city, the bookshop that acts as a façade for this secret society, and the thrilling murder mystery that forced me to keep reading late into the night, I knew I had to publish Marion Lane. Tess is a gifted storyteller and creative powerhouse, brimming with ideas, and I know readers all over the world will be swept away by her debut novel.”
Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and grew up on a small-holding outside Durban. Her mother, after whom her protagonist is named, is a trained nurse with a degree in English Literature who worked at the Institute of Race Relations during the years of apartheid. Her father is German and a mechanical engineer and the influence behind many of the gadgets in the novel. She lives in Malta with her partner where she divides her time between chiropractic and writing.
She said: “I am overjoyed to have found such a lovely home for my book at Trapeze. Katie’s enthusiasm for the story, in all its oddity, is truly a dream come true.”