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Hot Deals: Bantam's Big-Bucks Buys
Judy Quinn -- 6/29/98
It came as no surprise that no other publishers showed up for the auction held by agent Wendy Weil on June 18 to outbid Bantam senior editor Beverly Lewis's rumored $1.5-million floor (set at a previous auction with three bidding publishers) for Darkness Peering, a first novel by Alice Blanchard. Blanchard's first (and Katherine Anne Porter Prize-winning) collection of short fiction, The Stuntman's Daughter, was published by University of North Texas Press in 1996. Her new novel is a mystery/suspense thriller that concerns a cop who moves to Maine, his disturbed son, the murder of a local retarded girl, and the cop's daughter, who seeks to unravel the mystery years later.
Lewis bought world rights for two books with this bid; publication of Peering is planned for sometime next year.

Bantam also paid a rumored $1.5 million for North American rights to two books by Francine Mathews, the first to be a CIA thriller, Cutout. Agent Rafe Sagalyn brought the new project directly to Bantam publisher Irwyn Applebaum, v-p and deputy publisher Nita Taublib and Crimeline associate publisher Kate Miciak, since the latter already edits Mathews for the Nantucket Island mystery series written under her own name, as well as for the popular Jane Austen mysteries she pens under nom de plume Stephanie Barron.

The new book starts off with an American vice president, in Berlin as the city becomes Germany's capital, being taken hostage by a neo-Nazi group -- which has one member who looks eerily like the thought-dead CIA operative husband of another CIA agent. She becomes the "cutout," or agent to investigate the case. Mathews, a former CIA analyst herself, will have to submit the book to the CIA for clearance, as is required for all ex-CIA employees. No publication date is set.
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