The Accident

by Chris Pavone

(Crown, $26, 400 pages)

Who is this author?

Chris Pavone really hit the publishing jackpot with his debut novel, “The Expats,” a breakneck-paced thriller set among American expatriates in Europe. It quickly became a New York Times, USA Today and international bestseller, in 20 languages on five continents, and won the 2013 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. A publishing industry veteran, with years of experience, Pavone was a cookbook editor at Clarkson Potter: perhaps not the expected background for a thriller writer, but you could say he knows how to cook up a great plot. (Sorry, could not resist!). A New York native, Pavone graduated from Cornell University and lives with his wife and twin sons in Greenwich Village and the North Fork of Long Island.

What is this book about?

It’s not unusual for a literary agent to stay up all night reading a terrific manuscript, but the one that keeps Isabel Reed awake clearly is something special – and very dangerous. It reveals shocking information about a Rupert Murdoch-like media giant that will end his powerful influence, and it is written by someone who knows the truth about the man and will be marked for death if his involvement is revealed. And, he is not the only one facing death because of this explosive book. Secrets, lies and evil machinations abound in this thriller that imagines the power one book can have.

Why you’ll like it:

The action is set in the U.S. and Europe in the course of one jam-packed day. Innocent people die. A mystery involving powerful people is revealed, at considerable cost. Kinda sounds like a Dan Brown book, right? The difference is that Chris Pavone can write well, so his fast-moving plot is not hampered by cardboard characters and wooden dialogue. Summertime is a great time for reading a chilling thriller. This one, I predict, will be seen on many beaches this year.

What others are saying:

First, a warning: even though I frequently post the well-written mini-reviews from the Kirkus Reviews service, I suggest that you NOT read the one they have done for “The Accident,” as it is loaded with spoilers. After all, the fun of reading a thriller or mystery is trying to figure out the plot yourself. Stay away!

Booklist says, in a starred review:  New York literary agent Isabel Reed plows through an anonymous manuscript in one night and immediately knows two things: The manuscript, a biography of a media mogul, will be a blockbuster, and people will die if word of its existence leaks. She’s also fairly sure she knows who the author is, but he’s dead. Word does leak, in New York and Hollywood, and ambitious young women in publishing quickly die violently. Isabel and her chosen editor, Jeffrey Fielder, are on the run from resourceful, relentless killers. Pavone’s plot twists tirelessly, shifting focus among a large cast of well-drawn characters and using flashbacks and changes of locale (Copenhagen, Zurich, Manhattan, Hollywood, the Hamptons) to build suspense. The Accident is a somewhat more conventional thriller than Pavone’s fine debut (The Expats, 2012), but he excels at developing characters’ backstories. Isabel and Jeffrey, for example, are successful but frightened that changes in their business and the onset of middle age might make them has-beens, and they’re both recalling the mutual attraction they once had but didn’t act on. Like Isabel, many readers will read this one through the night.”

“[Pavone is] a reliable new must-read in the world of thrillers. . . . You will want to finish The Accident at a nice, rapid clip to see how [the] pieces come together. . . . Unputdownable,” says The New York Times.

From Barnes & Noble: “When Isabel Reed receives an anonymous expose of a multibillionaire media mogul, she realizes that it is a literary agent’s dream and nightmare. On one hand, if published, it would be a guaranteed mega-bestseller; but it might also get her sued or even killed. It turns out that those darkest fears are not unfounded. One of her associates is executed and she herself becomes the target of a very persistent rogue CIA assassin. Book industry veteran and author Chris Pavone (The Expats) presents an intense, unfolding thriller about a publishing process not in any handbook.”

A starred Publishers Weekly review says: “The contents of The Accident, a manuscript submission by an anonymous author, shock New York literary agent Isabel Reed, the heroine of Pavone’s high-wire thriller. . .  Isabel worries that the revelations of this nonfiction work about Charlie Wolfe, a global media baron (think Rupert Murdoch crossed with Charles Foster Kane), pose a real danger. Her fears prove well founded as ruthless, powerful forces do whatever it takes to prevent the book’s publication. The cold-blooded murder of someone close to Isabel is but the first of many. The cast of distinctive characters includes Hayden Gray, a Berlin-based “cultural attaché” (i.e., spy), who orchestrates the effort to reclaim the manuscript; Camilla Glyndon-Browning, a subsidiary-rights director who tries to shop it to Hollywood; and, of course, the anonymous author himself. Despite the far-fetched conceit, Pavone makes the story credible, and the suspense is palpable.”

When is it available?

If you’re not afraid to read it, this book is now at the Downtown Hartford Public Library.

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