Head of Zeus signs Jack the Ripper debut from Clare Whitfield

Lucy Nathan
Rights - Fiction Wednesday, 16 October 2019

People of Abandoned Character is HoZ's lead crime debut for 2020


Madeleine O'Shea, commissiong editor at Head of Zeus, has bought world rights for two novels by debut writer Clare Whitfield from David Headley at DHH Literary Agency. The first book, People of Abandoned Character, is set for release in October 2020 as Head of Zeus's lead crime debut of the year.

People of Abandoned Character is set during the time of Jack the Ripper: after Susannah Chapman rushes into marriage with wealthy surgeon Thomas Lancaster, things start to turn sour, and when she follows the newspaper reports of the 'terrifying killer' in the streets of Whitechapel, she starts to suspect her husband.

O'Shea said: "This book has the biggest, most explosive central hook - a new bride suspects her mysterious husband of being the notorious killer, Jack the Ripper. How could you not be gripped? People of Abandoned Character is page-turning for sure, but it also engages with important questions on gender, class and mental health, making it a book for crime-lovers and reading groups alike."

Whitfield said: "I'm fascinated by characters that tread a fine line between right and wrong. Can a bad deed ever be right if it's necessary to survive? My main character, Susannah, has to navigate Victorian London in the 1880s, a chaotic and unequal society, and I'm beyond thrilled she's found a home at Head of Zeus."

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