A psychological thriller and sophomore novel has been acquired in a high six-figure deal by Park Row Books. Annie Ward's Beautiful Bad, which has been drawing buzz in the run-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, was nabbed by Erika Imranyi at Harlequin's recently-launched literary imprint in a two-book deal, after a seven-bidder auction.
The novel, which U.K.-based agent Madeleine Milburn sold, is being billed by Park Row as one that "transcends" its genre. Acknowledging that the market for psychological suspense remains unusually crowded, Imranyi said Bad Beautiful stood out because it brings "something wholly original to the category." Citing the two novels that have arguably reignited the public's current obsession with the sub-genre, Imranyi added that Beautiful Bad's unreliable narrator will "join the ranks of Gone Girl’s Amy and Girl on the Train’s Rachel."
The book opens with a call to the police. Responding to a domestic dispute, the cops arrive on the scene to discover what the publisher described as "a terrible crime" which serves as the entry point for an examination of a marriage unraveling. Told from alternating perspectives, the book, Park Row said, builds to "a stunning and explosive climax" as it explores "the darker side of good intention and shows the myriad ways that we are haunted by the past."
Ward, who has a B.A. in English from UCLA and an MFA from the American Film Institute, published her debut, The Making of June (G.P. Putnam's Sons), in 2002. Her short screenplay Strange Habit (which stars Joey Lauren Adams and Adam Scott) won the Grand Jury Award at the Aspen Film Festival.
Beautiful Bad is set for a winter 2019 release.