McMafia producer Cuba Pictures is developing a TV adaptation of The Rumour, a story loosely based on the real-life case of British child killer Mary Bell, after optioning Lesley Kara’s debut novel.

The company, which has produced feature films including Boy A and Broken and is part of BBC Studios-backed Original Talent, acquired the rights to the book from Emily Hayward-Whitlock at The Artists Partnership on behalf of Amanda Preston at LBA Books.

The book, which is set to be published in December, starts when single mum Joanna hears a rumor at the school gates that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea. Although she never intends to pass it on, one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back. It follows Sally McGowan, who was just 10 years old when she stabbed Robbie Harris to death 48 years ago, and no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman, but the supposedly reformed killer now lives among the small community. How dangerous can one rumor become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what she’s unleashed?

The book was written by Kara, an alumna of Faber Academy’s “Writing a Novel” course, previously having worked as a nurse and a secretary before becoming a lecturer and manager in further education.

Cuba Pictures Head of Development Louise Mountain said,  “We were completely gripped by The Rumour and are excited to be working to bring Kara’s brilliant story to the screen.”