Chris Pavone should be commended for penning such an ambitious thriller. But The Accident is ultimately let down by a series of problems with its execution. It attempts to make a high-stakes game out of 24-hours in the publishing industry but it requires a very large suspension of disbelief in order for any of it to ring true. It also boasts a cast of thousands and this means it can be hard to know or care about the people involved for the majority of the tale.
This book is Pavone’s second novel. The author has had first-hand knowledge of the publishing industry, having worked in it for several decades and mostly as an editor. He is also no stranger to writing suspenseful stories, having won the Edgar award for his debut novel The Expats. Pavone’s first-hand knowledge of the publishing industry could be seen as both a help and a hindrance because it is quite possible that there are times when he is a little too close to the subject matter in this story and all of this does is tend to alienate the reader.
The novel begins with a discrete but influential literary agent named Isabella Reed receiving a typed manuscript from an anonymous author. The book is an explosive exposé about a media mogul who has links to the CIA. This unpublished manuscript offers a lot of potential- it could be a saving grace for some key players in the industry because it looks poised to sell by the truckload and revive some waning careers. But there are people like veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray who want the manuscript buried and they will stop at nothing less than murder to do so.
The Accident is a mish-mash of different perspectives including various literati, spies/security agents and the elusive, “author”. The novel offers up some excerpts from the unpublished manuscript and these contain some of the more explosive revelations. The Accident itself starts off rather slowly and it does tend to jump around between chapters headed up by major and minor characters, as well as different tenses and perspectives. This can make it a trudge for the reader because it can be difficult to weed out the important stuff from the over-written paragraphs. When you combine this with some predictable twists and an unsatisfying ending, it can make for one hard slog indeed.
This literary thriller has a great premise and it could make for an interesting film but it is a rather difficult read. While Pavone has crafted a book that is brimming with many different layers and dramatic elements when this is combined it can be a tad overwhelming for the reader. In all, this is a detailed mystery that offers up some drama and tension but there is also room for this story to be tightened and improved.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/the-accident/8111709/