Otto Penzler, noted founder of the mystery and crime house Penzler Publishing, is teaming with Pegasus Books to launch Scarlet, a joint publishing venture specializing in psychological suspense aimed at female readers.

The new venture has tabbed Luisa Smith, longtime buying director at Book Passage, a Corte Madera, Ca. bookstore, to be Scarlet editor-in-chief. Nat Sobel, founder of the Nat Sobel Associates literary agency, will act as a consultant to the imprint.

Scarlet will launch in winter 2020 with six to eight titles. The Scarlet list will be distributed by W.W. Norton, which also distributes the titles of its parent companies, Penzler Publishing and Pegasus Books.

Penzler, speaking to the new venture, said the psychological suspense genre as “an exciting sub-genre of mystery fiction that has enjoyed a long history of success, both critically and commercially.”

Crime titles from Pegasus Books, according to Pegasus publisher Claiborne Hancock, have mostly been focused on historical mystery, detective novels, neo-noir and cozies. This new imprint, he explained, will add a popular category. “Psychological suspense that features complex women is one of the most dynamic categories in popular fiction right now, so the time is right for an imprint dedicated to this genre.”