Book review: The Accident by Chris Pavone
Last year’s sensational debut, The Expats – a globe-trotting, cat-and-mouse spy thriller – was an international bestseller, won the Edgar Best First Novel Award, a clutch of nominations and secured a major Hollywood film deal.
It was destined to be a hard act to follow but one that this smart writer was more than up to with his exciting and instinctive feel for the world of espionage and fine line in devilish plotting and electrifying suspense.
The Accident, inspired by Pavone’s own career roots in the cut-throat, high stakes world of publishing, reintroduces us to the shadowy domain of former undercover CIA agent Kate Moore and the elusive US cultural attaché Hayden Gray.
Fast-paced – all the action takes place within 24 hours – the tale of an anonymous and incendiary book manuscript that could breach national security and bring down one of America’s biggest media moguls fulfils all the promise of The Expats.
Packed with intrigue, betrayal, murder, mystery and a maze of conundrums that will blast all your whodunit theories out of the water until the very last pages, The Accident is as satisfying as it is gripping.
In her chic New York apartment overlooking Central Park, Isabel Reed, boss of Atlantic Talent Management and one of the city’s most respected and powerful literary agents, is frantically turning the pages of a manuscript as the dawn light creeps in.
The manuscript, entitled The Accident, has been printed out and hand delivered and is totally anonymous apart from an email address which appears to be unrecognised.
Within its pages are shocking revelations and disturbing truths, dangerous facts which could compromise American security and potentially destroy Charlie Wolfe’s media empire.
Isabel, who harbours painful secrets in her own past, is furious at what the book spells out, terrified of what dangers it presents and is heartbroken by the immensity of the betrayals at its heart. But the book could also be just what she has been waiting for.
Acquiring editor Jeff Fielder’s job is in ‘a multi-year slump’ and now his friend Isabel is offering him ‘the thing that every editor wakes up for, comes to work for. The book that changes your career. Your life.’
In Copenhagen, Hayden Gray, a veteran station chief, is steadfastly monitoring the dangers that abound in Europe. By his own admission, he has chosen to spend his entire adult life as ‘an American abroad, meddling in the affairs of foreign governments.’
Hayden is also on the trail of the manuscript and its secrets. For him, quite simply, it must never see the light of day. Alongside him is his ambivalent ally Kate Moore and an artillery of CIA personnel.
As Isabel and Hayden try to outwit each other, the nameless author watches from afar. With no-one quite sure who holds all the cards, just 24 hours to find the manuscript, careers in jeopardy and lives under threat, the risks are high and the perilous race for time will see few winners and a terrifying toll of losers…
The Accident steals the show again with its vitality, its cast of vivid and credible characters, its keen eye for the Machiavellian workings of international politics and espionage, and its heady infusion of intelligent plotting and malevolent mystery.
The drive to hunt down the truth behind the manuscript is as compulsive for the readers as the need of others to stop its publication dead in its tracks.
Discover for yourself the deepest, darkest secrets of a truly thrilling adventure.
(Faber, hardback, £12.99)