The first book on the poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia has been announced. Pan Macmillan in the UK, Henry Holt in the US and Droemer in Germany – all three owned by Germany’s Holtzbrinck group – will simultaneously publish The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy this autumn. It will be written by Mark Urban, diplomatic editor of the BBC’s respected current affairs programme, Newsnight.
On 4 March, the Skripals were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury in south west England. In hospital it was discovered that they had been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. In July, two members of the public in Amesbury, a village near Salisbury, also came into contact with the same nerve agent, with one of them subsequently dying.
Pan Macmillan says Urban’s book will be the “definitive account of the drama” and written by a journalist who has been covering the world of espionage for decades. The publisher says: “In 2017, Mark Urban spoke at length with Sergei Skripal covering his life as a colonel in the Russian military intelligence, his turning to work as an agent for MI6, his arrest and trial in Russia, and the spy swap that brought him to England, where he watched relations between Russia and the West deteriorate.”
The Skripal Files will be the first book to put into context the events of that fateful day last March, after which the Skripals desperately fought for their lives, having been poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok. It will explore what this case means for the future of the relationship between the West and Russia. The book will tell the story of this new power play, which saw Russian diplomats expelled from embassies across Europe and in the United States.
PanMacmillan bought world rights in the title from Jonathan Lloyd at Curtis Brown in London. Anna Alexander, Pan Macmillan’s Senior Rights Manager is handling the title in-house. As yet, no further foreign deals have been announced and Arabic rights in the title remain available.