EXCLUSIVE: CBS Television Studios has pre-emptively bought the rights to Edgar-winning author Meg Gardiner’s forthcoming novel UNSUB, ahead of an auction, to adapt for television. The novel, the first in a series, will be published June 27 by Dutton/Penguin Random House. It will be developed as a TV series by Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman, who’ll be executive producers through their studio-based Timberman-Beverly Productions banner, along with The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno. The author, who has spent years researching celebrated unsub cases, will also serve as a producer. They will begin talking to writers and showrunners quickly.

The thriller follows a female detective on the trail of an infamous serial killer – inspired by the still-unsolved Zodiac case – when he breaks his silence and begins killing again. The detective, who grew up watching her father destroy himself and his family chasing the killer, now finds herself facing the same monster. Her work brings her to the attention of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, where she goes to work hunting other UNSUBs (UNknown SUBjects, a term used for suspects in a criminal investigation) while being tormented by the killer her father never caught.

Timberman and Beverly are executive producers of CBS’ Elementary and previously exec produced Justified, Masters of Sex and Unforgettable. The duo is in post on the CBS/CBS Studios Navy SEALs drama pilot with David Boreanaz.

CBS has long-running drama Criminal Minds, recently renewed for a 13th season, which also revolves  around agents from FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit tracking down serial killers.

Dutton/Penguin House bought the first two books in the series just before the book went to auction last year. The second novel, already written, will be published early next year. Foreign rights are now being sold to both. The Story Factory separately set the feature projects The Cartel and The Force at Fox, The Second Life of Nick Mason at Lionsgate, License to Steal at Paramount and Afterlife at Imagine.

Gardiner’s deal was made by CAA and The Story Factory. Timberman, Beverly and Salerno are repped by CAA.