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International Best-Seller 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair' Lands Big-Money U.S. Deal

Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair Book Cover - P 2013

The Swiss thriller about a murder in New Hampshire toppled "Fifty Shades of Grey" and "Inferno" from European best-seller lists.

A novel described as Switzerland's answer to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has landed an American publisher after topping European best-seller lists during the last year.

Penguin Books announced it had acquired U.S. rights to The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Swiss novelist Joel Dicker.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources describe it to The Hollywood Reporter as the largest advance ever at Penguin Books.

The book is pitched as "a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book" centered on the "disappearance of a 15-year-old New Hampshire girl and, 30 years later, a young American writer's determination to clear his mentor’s name -- and find the inspiration for his next best-seller."

It's the second published novel from the relatively unknown Dicker.

The book was one of the buzziest titles at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, essentially publishing's version of the Cannes Film Festival. It went on to sell more than 1 million copies in France, where it knocked Fifty Shades of Grey off the top of the best-seller list. In Spain and Italy, it took the top spot from Dan Brown's Inferno.

Publication is slated for Summer 2014 as a paperback original. The company is planning an aggressive rollout to introduce the 28-year-old Dicker and his book to American audiences, including a prepublication introductory tour to meet with journalists and influential booksellers.

Rights to the book have been sold in 35 countries but it is only now appearing in English. British publisher Christopher MacLehose, who published the Dragon Tattoo series and will be publishing Harry Quebert in England in May, brokered the deal with Penguin Books. Executive editor John Siciliano represented the publisher.

Dicker is represented by Paris-based literary agent Arabella Cruse