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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

‘The Accident’ By Chris Pavone

Published by Crown Publishing,
March 11, 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-385-34845-4

The Accident is, nominally, about a manuscript which bears that title, the author shown as “Anonymous.”  It is a memoir (perhaps), an expose or unauthorized biography (possibly), of an international media mogul (think Rupert Murdoch), with some little-known (or until now unknown) and potentially ruinous events in his past, most shockingly the one which gives the book its title, the person who wrote it identified only as “the author.”  But more importantly, the novel, written with a sly humor, provides an inside look at the publishing industry, in ever greater danger of extinction, that is as fascinating (in a schadenfreude kind of way) as that ostensible main story line.  We are told the “the publishing business is a business, and books are published for an audience to buy from bookstores, who buy units from distributors who order cartons from publishers who acquire titles from literary agencies who sign up careers from authors, money changing hands at every transaction.”

The book opens with the surveillance of a woman, as yet unnamed, by a man watching a live video feed as she lies in bed, reading, typical of the espionage, literal and figurative, found here. 

The manuscript, hand-delivered to the office of Isabel Reed, a powerful literary agent in New York, is full of shocking revelations implicating, e.g., various American presidents and CIA directors, and is, almost literally, dynamite, putting those few individuals who are privy to its contents in mortal danger.  On the other hand, each of those individuals, initially at least, see in it their salvation.  Written from their various points of view, the novel takes the reader from New York to Zurich, Copenhagen and Los Angeles, all of it taking place in a single day, and exposes the staggering machinations which routinely abound in the publishing industry.  The reader is treated to brief excerpts from the manuscript, interspersed periodically, as it is read by the players in that select group. 

With wonderfully well-drawn characters, this is a terrific read, and highly recommended. 
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Chris Pavone grew up in New York City, and attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and Cornell University. He worked at a number of publishing houses over nearly two decades, most notably as an editor at Clarkson Potter, where he specialized in cookbooks; in the late nineties, he also wrote a little (and mostly blank) book called The Wine Log. His first novel, The Expats, released in the U.S. and the U.K. in early 2012, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and is being published in fifteen languages on five continents, and developed for film. Chris is married and the father of twin schoolboys, as well as an old cocker spaniel, and they all live in Greenwich Village and the North Fork of Long Island.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  

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