Trapeze has signed a "cosy crime" debut from Tilly Bagshawe, writing under the pen-name M B Shaw.
Sam Eades, senior commissioning editor at Trapeze, acquired world (English language) rights to The Mill in a deal struck by Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK.
The Mill will be the first in a "quintessentially British" new series, the Portrait of a Murder series, publishing in December 2017, described as perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, the British Library Crime Classics series and "Midsomer Murders".
It introduces readers to a portrait painter and amateur sleuth, Iris Grey. Set in an old converted water mill in Hampshire, the first Iris Grey mystery centres around the mill’s owners, the Wetherby family. Iris has been commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated author, and finds herself drawn into a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets and a murder.
Eades said:"‘From the ongoing sales of British Library Crime Classic series, to the popularity of And Then There Were None, there is a growing appetite from readers for tightly plotted mysteries. The Mill has all the hallmarks of a classic cosy, with red herrings, an amateur sleuth and a chocolate-box location. However Tilly brings to the genre energy, emotional depth and humour, and has created an unforgettable hero in Iris Grey."
"There is huge television potential for the series," she added.
Hellie Ogden, agent, said: "This project felt like the perfect next step for Tilly combining her talents for writing engaging characters, complex plots and always brilliant settings. Matching Tilly’s ambition for the series with Trapeze’s bold, creative plans feels incredibly exciting."
Bagshawe commented: "Spending so much time in America makes me homesick, and I have long wanted to write a quintessentially British crime series, a fresh twist on the classic Miss Marple or Lord Peter Wimsey books. The best crime should be beautifully plotted but also deeply character driven. Iris is at the heart of all the Portrait of a Murder books. Her watchfulness, her intelligence, her vulnerability and humour. Like so many of us, she can see clearly the truths of others while often struggling to find her own way."