Cheetham Builds a Crime List for Quercus

The Bookseller profiles Anthony Cheetham and his startup publisher Quercus, which in three and a half yeasr has built up quite the list of crime fiction titles:

The backbone of the new imprint is crime. “If I found myself out on

the street tomorrow and somebody said you have to start a crime list,

it’s amazing how quickly one could do it, simply because there are so

many writers who are of competent-plus standard,” Cheetham says.


tip-off from Otto Penzler, proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New

York and a crime writing afficionado, led Quercus to buy its first

publication, Red Leaves by Thomas Cook—a writer who, although

shortlisted for an Edgar Award and a Gold Dagger, has never been

commercially successful in the UK. “Our piece of good fortune is that

this a brilliant book,” Cheetham says.

Soon afterwards he began “idly reading” a manuscript of award-winning Australian author Peter Temple’s Bad Debts.

“I thought, this is really rather terrific. He’d been turned down in

the past so there was no great price tag attached. Once we had two

distinguished books, I felt we had the makings of a list.”

While many of Cheetham’s authors, like Thomas Perry, Donald Westlake and Robert Daley are straight out of Otto Penzler’s Harcourt roster, Quercus is also picking up the UK rights of books by Colin Cotterill, Adrian Hyland and Michael Walters – a list of 21 that has good and bad points. “If one showed the list to a crime afficionado they would say, hey,

this a very promising list,” Cheetham says. “But if one showed it to a

bookseller they, like me, would say it’s still to be proven.”