Published by Faber & Faber on January 5th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
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From Edgar Award-winning Chris Pavone, author of the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller The Expats, comes a riveting time-bomb of a thriller (fans of The Expats will be excited to see a few characters from Pavone's first book pop up here as well). Taking place over the course of twenty-four hours, The Accident draws on the rich worlds of publishing, politics and international spies to tell a suspenseful tale of intrigue in the vein of John Grisham and Laura Lippman.
In New York City, Isabel Reed, one of the most respected and powerful literary agents in the city, frantically turns the pages of a manuscript into the early dawn hours. This manuscript - printed out, hand-delivered, totally anonymous - is full of shocking revelations and disturbing truths linked to a car accident that occurred years ago, things which could compromise national security. Is this what she's been waiting for her entire career: a book that will help her move on from a painful past, a book that could save her beloved industry... a book that will change the world?
In Copenhagen, Hayden Gray, a veteran station chief, wary of the CIA's obsession with the Middle East, has been steadfastly monitoring the dangers that abound in Europe. Even if his bosses aren't paying attention, he's determined to stay vigilant. And he's also on the trail of this manuscript - and the secrets that lie at its heart. For him, quite simply, it must never see the light of day.
As Isabel and Hayden try to outwit each other, the nameless author watches on from afar. With no-one quite sure who holds all the cards, the stakes couldn't be higher: in just one day careers could be ruined, devastating secrets could be unearthed, and innocent people could die. As the manuscript moves from person to person, it leaves a trail of bodies in its wake.
Gripping, sophisticated, and impossible to put down, The Accident is a masterful follow-up to one of the most acclaimed and striking debut thrillers of recent years.
This could have been a great book. COULD. HAVE. BEEN! Instead it’s long-winded, tedious, boring and pointless.
The premise is a good one. A manuscript with potentially damaging revelations has been carefully, secretively and anonymously penned, and sent to New York literary agent, Isabel Reed, for review. She realises it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime” manuscript and sets about hiring an editor in order to publish the book. Unfortunately the person behind the revelations will do anything to stop the manuscript being released, and soon people with the slightest connection to the secretive document start to be killed by shadowy hitmen.
It sounds pretty OK. Unfortunately the baseline premise of the book – that there are potentially damaging revelations that shouldn’t be released to the public – just doesn’t hold up. A media mogul had a car accident in college and a girl was killed. The accident was covered up. The end. Do we really care if a media mogul’s deepest secret is about to be revealed?! There are meant to be scandalous links between the media mogul and “black ops CIA” but the link is tenuous at best, and is never really explored nor explained.
For a book which is based around the whole process of book publishing, I had to keep reminding myself this was NOT a debut author, it was NOT a self-published, editor-less diatribe, and it WAS released by a decent publishing house (Faber & Faber). If you want to know all about the ins and outs of book publishing and the sale of rights to movie-makers, this is probably a great book to read. Unfortunately I don’t and the endless descriptions of editors and movie producers and literary agents just got tiresome.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the “twists and turns” in the book couldn’t have been more conspicuous if they were signposted! Every single “reveal” was so obvious from 100+ pages previous, there really was no sense of tension or surprise.
On top of all of that the actual base English used by Pavone is grating. Words like “cafeination” and “more clever” (yes, really!) are interspersed with sentences up to 9 lines long. So not only is this book tiresome, boring, unsurprising and tedious, it’s badly written on top of it all!
Had Pavone sat down and watched a couple of episodes of the excellent Scandal on TV then he may have had a better idea for this premise. Change a media mogul to a president. Change a shadowy half-hearted link to a CIA black ops group to something more akin to B6-13, get a decent editor to help with the actual tension and surprise revelations in the book, and you might be on to something decent.
As it is this book is a shambles and even now, having finally crawled my way to the end, I am still bemused as to how it got published!!