Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment has optioned Mother-Daughter Murder Night, the debut novel by Nina Simon that was selected last week by Reese Witherspoon as her September book club pick.
The murder-mystery, which hit shelves last week from William Morrow, has been described as Gilmore Girls meets Only Murders in the Building as it follows a grandmother-mother-daughter trio of amateur sleuths.
The whodunnit sees an older, high-powered businesswoman, convalescing in a sleepy coastal town with her adult daughter and granddaughter. When the granddaughter discovers a body while kayaking, and becomes a suspect, the trio, all fiercely independent, must come together to solve the crime, uncovering all sorts of secrets in the town along the way.
Simon, who previously wrote two nonfiction books, drew inspiration for her novel after her mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2020. During doctors’ visits and chemo sessions, Simon posited the idea of a murder-mystery, a genre they both loved, with a character like her mother as the lead detective. That set off mother-daughter brainstorming sessions and, three years later, a high-profile book that is garnering rave reviews. (The mother’s cancer is in remission.)
Witherspoon’s book club is one of the more influential star-driven lit lists that bring not only sales but adaptations. Among the titles that have seen book-to-screen translations are Daisy Jones and the Six and Where the Crawdads Sing.
It is unclear at this time what form an adaptation would take. Kaplan’s Kapital is known mostly for its TV fare but has developed features. Kaplan has executive producer credits on shows ranging from Showtime’s The Chi and ABC’s A Million Little Things to NBC’s American Housewife and Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet. On the feature side, Kapital is in pre-production One Mile and sequel One More Mile, both for Paramount Global.
Earlier this year, the indie studio expanded beyond TV and film with the launch of Kapital Digital, a new division focused on digital content.
Simon, who is a former NASA engineer and museum director who now lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is repped by WME and Stefanie Lieberman at Janklow & Nesbit.