Bruno Coppola and Joseph Pierson have acquired the film rights to Patricia Highsmith’s A Suspension of Mercy.

Coppola [pictured] has written the screenplay and will direct.

Set in England and Italy in 1966, in turns darkly funny and chilling, the thriller is about an American crime author and his rebellious English wife. The plot includes a missing person and a murder investigation.

Nancy Bishop and Alison McBryde are handling casting, and the film will shoot in the UK and Italy this autumn.

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London-based Coppola previously directed the Cannes award-winning short film Stuff That Bear! and feature Unknown Things. He is Francis Ford Coppola’s cousin and served as co-screenwriter on The Godfather III.

Pierson runs New York-based Cypress Films and his credits include EvenHand and Julian Po.

Highsmith is, of course, a favourite of filmmakers after such works as Strangers On A Train, The American Friend and The Talented Mr Ripley.