Harvill Secker has triumphed at auction to snap up true-crime book The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris.
Editorial director for crime and thrillers at Harvill Secker Jade Chandler acquired world English language rights at auction from Patrick Walsh at PEW Literary. Harvill Secker will publish in October 2020.
Chandler said: "I am very excited about working with Thomas on The Dublin Railway Murder. The blend of Victoriana, a locked room mystery, trains and Dublin had me hooked from the first line and we will be publishing it with fanfare next autumn as the first true-crime book on our list."
Set in 1856, The Dublin Railway Murder concerns the murder of George Little, the chief cashier of the Broadstone railway terminus in Dublin, who was found dead – throat cut, surrounded by piles of cash – in his office with the door locked, apparently from the inside.
"The courts of Dublin had not convicted a single murderer in more than thirty years so the case quickly gained notoriety, with the press hanging on every revelation. Detectives struggled to understand how the killer could have entered and then escaped from a locked room, and why thousands of pounds in gold and silver had been left untouched at the scene of the crime," said Harvill Secker. "Three of Scotland Yard’s most celebrated sleuths were summoned to assist the enquiry, but all returned to London baffled. It was left to Superintendent Augustus Guy, the head of Ireland's first detective force, to unravel the mystery."
Morris added: "When I first came across the story of the Dublin Railway Murder, this extraordinary real-life mystery with its unexpected plot twists immediately reminded me of a well-constructed crime thriller. So I am thrilled that it will be the first true-crime title published by Harvill Secker, the home of Jo Nesbo, Ruth Ware and many other great names in crime fiction."
Walsh said: "The case behind the Dublin Railway Murder has everything – a truly puzzling crime, several suspects arrested and released, a dogged detective in Superintendent Augustus Guy, mysterious witnesses, newspapers fighting to cover every development, (and even a brief appearance from Mr Whicher). No-one loves and knows archives more than Thomas Morris, and for his first narrative non-fiction book Thomas has unearthed a staggeringly good story. It’s a joy."