Serpent’s Tail's new crime imprint Viper will publish the second novel from former investigative undercover journalist and award-winning author Kate Simants.
Miranda Jewess, senior commissioning editor at Viper, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Knocks, which won the 2019 Bath Novel Award, in a two-book deal from Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates. The Knocks will be published in summer 2020.
Simants spent several years as an investigative undercover journalist for Channel 4 and the BBC. She was shortlisted for a Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger for her first novel Lock Me In (HarperCollins), and won the University of East Anglia Literary Festival scholarship to study for an MA in Crime Fiction at the Norwich-based university.
The Knocks follows Bristol probation officer Wren Reynolds as she trials an early-release scheme which sees offenders meet their victims in an attempt to atone for their actions. Rob Ashworth has served 28 months for the burglary he committed with teenager Paige Garrett, who hasn’t been seen since that night. Wren is convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, who lived in the same children’s home as Rob's troubled brother, Luke. And Wren has a personal reason for her obsession with the missing girl: a secret she has to keep from her partner, heavily pregnant police officer Suzy. Putting more than her professional reputation on the line, Wren scrapes away the layers of deceit that prevented Paige’s disappearance being solved. But will she work out who can be trusted before her family is torn apart?
Jewess said: “Kate’s book is something special, a thriller that takes the reader into the underbelly of a children’s home, explores life after prison, and asks questions about how much one can really repair the damage you do to, and as, a young person. It’s also a great mystery with some killer twists, and characters that you will both hate and root for. We’re so excited to have Kate on the new Viper list for 2020. She’s a wonderful talent.”
Simants said: “The central idea for The Knocks has been percolating since I worked undercover in children’s homes for a documentary in my previous career in TV production. Places in these often run-down, understaffed units cost more than sending a child to Eton, and I was struck by the profiteering at the top of the chain. The #MeToo movement was just mushrooming too as I wrote it, and Paige’s story represents a pattern among girls in care, whose exploitation so often goes unnoticed. The Knocks is a thriller with a heart: it’s also about the bonds formed between people who have been cast aside by society. I've admired Serpent’s Tail's output for years, and am absolutely delighted that The Knocks will be among the first titles to be published by Miranda and the team at their new crime imprint, Viper.”