Viking wins seven-figure auction for Richard Osman novels

Rights - Fiction Friday, 24 May 2019

Ten-publisher auction ends with PRH imprint sealing two-book deal with Pointless star for crime series; sigificant foreign rights deals secured

Viking has signed The Thursday Murder Club, and one other novel, for a seven figure sum after topping a list of nine other publishers.

Editorial director Katy Loftus acquired UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights, including audio, from Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens for the first two novels in a classic crime series. According to Viking: 'Set in a fictional 'luxury retirement village' off the A21 in Kent, it stars four retirees who meet every Thursday to solve cold cases, and who encounter a live case in their first literary outing.'

North American rights were acquired by Pamela Dorman at Pamela Dorman Books at auction in a significant six-figure deal from Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency on behalf of Juliet Mushens; Ullstein pre-empted German rights in a six-figure deal; Cargo bought Dutch rights at auction; Lattes bought French rights in a pre-empt, and SEM pre-empted Italian rights. There is also currently an offer in Israel and an offer in Spain, with more territories expected.

Osman is the creative director of TV company production company Endemol Shine and rose to fame presenting TV quiz show Pointless with Alexander Armstrong. He also presents his own BBC quiz, House of Games, along with Insert Name Here and Child Genius and is frequently on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You.

Loftus said: "The Thursday Murder Club marks the launch of a dazzling new literary talent. Richard Osman writes fiction like he was born to it, and I know that his quartet of unlikely detectives – Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron – are swiftly going to become household names across the UK. Richard captures an essence of Britain, and of Britishness, in the same way that Agatha Christie did in her day, with the same knife-sharp observational skill and fond humour."

Osman said: "I can’t begin to express how excited I am to be taking The Thursday Murder Club to the brilliant team at Viking. To turn from a lifelong reader to a debut author is a dream come true for me. I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters, and to try and solve their many mysteries. And, on a personal note, I’m delighted that my Mum now thinks I have a proper job."

Venetia Butterfield said: "The whole team at Viking and Penguin General fell in love with Richard’s extraordinary novel, and we are hugely excited to be able to introduce readers to the remarkable world he has created, and to launch a major new voice in fiction."

Mushens said: "When Richard told me he had written a novel I knew that it would be warm and witty. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how brilliantly the Thursday Murder Club would come to life: perfectly balancing character-led humour with a page-turning mystery. The response all over the world is a testament to how stand-out this book is, and I’m excited for Viking to launch Richard as a novelist."

Viking will publish The Thursday Murder Club in Autumn 2020, and the second novel in the series following a year later.

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