Chris Pavone spent close to twenty years as a book editor before he wrote his attention-getting debut, The Expats. That book used the espionage thriller to look at marriage. For his follow up, The Accident, he turns an eye to his former profession.
He hooks us immediately with an anonymous author finishing up his nonfiction book. The book centers on a crime that could rock both the financial world and the CIA. When the agency gets wind of it, they decide to stop the information from getting out by any means necessary. Caught in their sight is Isabella Reed, a literary agent handling the mysterious manuscript. Pavone keeps us in suspense about who will survive, what the information in the book is, and the identity of the author, all in the span of one tense day.
Pavone mines the publishing backdrop for all it is worth. He not only delves into into the mechanics of the business, but the personalities, as well. He takes away a lot of the romantic notions and shows the resigned hardships of folks working in a business with a thin profit margin and how a bombshell of a book written by an unidentified author can affect it. He truly makes us believe a book can be a matter life and death.
Pavone also creates fully realized characters. Very few of them can simply be defined as good or bad, yet their clear motivations make for a clean narrative. What makes them complex and interesting is how all are a part of something bigger, whether that is family, country, or literature. Many find themselves trapped by those passions.
The Accident works both as a tight thriller and subtle satire of the publishing industry, often at the same time. As neurotic and self involved as many of his characters are, we are tied to them and care about them for their love of words. Pavone gives us an exciting argument for how powerful those words can be.
The Accident will be on our shelves March 11. Chris Pavone will be here at the store on Thursday, March 20 at 7PM to read from & sign copies of The Accident. We’re now accepting orders for signed copies via our website, bookpeople.com.