Welbeck has won the five-publisher auction for Finnish crime writer Max Seeck’s global sensation The Witch Hunter and its sequel.
Fiction publisher Jon Elek bought UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, from Rhea Lyons at HG Literary on behalf of Elina Ahlback of the Elina Ahlback Agency in Helsinki.
There was a clamour over the book late last year and rights have been sold in 35 countries, with dramatic rights going to Greg Silverman at Stampede Ventures. Berkley, a division of PRH in the US, will publish alongside Welbeck in October 2020.
The novel is about a detective who is called to investigate an extraordinary murder—the wife of a famous writer seems to have been killed in a bizarre ritual. The synopsis continues: "As more ritual murders occur, it becomes obvious that the detective is after a serial killer, but the murders are not random—they follow a pattern taken from the writer's bestselling trilogy."
Elek said: "As soon I started reading, I had this powerful sense that Max could really set a scene and tell a story, but there was something else, too: this ability to see and describe patterns of thought and the contours of inner worlds that was extremely dark and unsettling. Inevitably because it’s Finnish the comparisons will be made to Larsson and Nesbo, but to me it was also every inch an equal to the best of Barbara Vine or Patricia Highsmith. The commercial potential of this series can’t be overstated."
Seeck added: "Already when I was writing The Witch Hunter I felt there was something really special in this one. I’m super glad it has been well-received around the globe and getting the novel translated for the UK market is a dream come true. I’m very excited and looking forward to see how British readers feel about the story."