Book Review – THE ACCIDENT by Chris Pavone

The Accident Synopsis: 

The Accident by Chris PavoneFrom the author of the New York Times-bestselling and Edgar Award-winning The Expats

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried. 

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense. (Crown Publishing)

BOOK REVIEW

One of my reading objectives this year was to make time for the more commercial titles that had largely been squeezed out of my reading schedule due to my penchant for quirky literature. I suppose I felt like I was missing out on the bestseller buzz. One example of a bestseller I’d not found time for was the much lauded debut from Chris Pavone, The Expats. So when the opportunity arose to get my hands on an ARC copy of his latest novel The Accident I jumped at the chance.

Pavone’s experience in the publishing industry was clear from the outset. He knows the formula for a bestseller.

Firstly, come up with a story that will appeal to his consumers – readers. The Accident is a story about writing and the product of those efforts, a secret manuscript. It is set within the book publishing industry – an industry that many readers dream of working in. And, I think this the icing on the cake, it broadens that industry scope to the multi-media field, movies and online news outlets.

So Pavone has hooked readers with his blurb and they’ve made the decision to purchase. Now he needs to ensure the reviews are favourable across the reader spectrum.

He delivers high quality, easy to read prose and switches between many character viewpoints in a swathe of exotic locales, but does not fully reveal or explain the background of those characters. Then just when you think you are getting your bearings and getting to know a character they end up dead. Gee, didn’t see that coming – better pay more attention… focus reader, focus.  The suspense builds.

Pavone even caters for those with short attention spans (the TV advertisement generation) with brutally short chapters. These serve to increase the pace and tension. They are puzzle pieces for problem solvers. It’s like a pass-the-parcel game, you can’t stop until you find out what the prize in the centre is.

But, despite having admiration for many aspects of this novel – the cleverness of the plot’s twists and turns, the pacing and suspense and the high quality prose – Chris Pavone’s The Accident just didn’t leave an indelible impression on me. The characters were interesting but lacked depth – I couldn’t connect with them on anything other than a superficial level.

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The big budget marketing campaign earned by this author’s bestselling status (and perhaps connections?) tells us ‘The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense’.

Based on this outing, I think a more objective assessment is that Pavone is a high performing technician, but certainly no master. For me, the work of a master exudes a sense of artistry and gravitas not found in The Accident, no matter the genre.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Have you read The Accident ? Do you want to?

Join the discussion below.

BOOK DETAILS: The Accident by Chris Pavone ( Book DepositoryBooktopia Kobobooks | Amazon )

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Action-Adventure, Crime-Detective

Author Information: Chris Pavone’s first novel, The Expats, was published in 2012, and was a New York Times and international bestseller, with nearly twenty foreign editions and a major film deal. The Expats was nominated for aLos Angeles Times Book Prize and a Macavity, and awards from the Strand Magazine Critics Circle, the Mystery Booksellers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, and received the 2013 Edgar Award and the 2013 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Chris grew up in New York City and attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and then 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 wrote a little book called The Wine Log. He is married and the father of twin schoolboys, and they all live in New York City and on the North Fork of Long Island.

- Check out Chris Pavone’s website

Other reviews of The Accident : The New York Times ; Kirkus Reviews ; Three Guys One Book ; Sukasa Reads ; A Bookworm’s World

* My receiving an ebook copy of this title from Crown Publishing for review purposes in no way hindered the expression of my honest opinions in the above.

Comments

  1. techeditor says

    I suspect that your rating is so unlike the many other ratings of this book because you are comparing it to the “quirky literature” you normally read. Just the fact that you call this “commercial” tells me immediately that you went into this with the wrong attitude.

    The type of reader who reads Pavone would probably dislike what you prefer. This type of reader doesn’t expect (or maybe even want) a “master.”

    • says

      Hi Beth. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my review.

      I actually completely agree with you on your last point, that people may not necessarily want to read the work of a ‘master’. My gripe in this case is the label says ‘true master’.

      On your other points:

      – Just looked at the average rating for this novel on Goodreads, right now it’s sitting at 3.69, so my rating of 3.5 is pretty close to that.

      – Reviews on my site are my attempt at describing my personal response to a book. That’s why I fully disclose my literary leanings so that people can read my opinions within context.

      – ‘Commercial’ is not a negative descriptor coming from me. Although I have a deep appreciation for the arts, I’m a capitalist at heart working in a very technical field and I respect commercial success. That’s my day job. A ‘high performing technician’ is a complement in respect to the skills of the author, and their editor.

      – I enjoy books across a diverse range of genre, and I was very much looking forward to reading this novel. I wouldn’t have wasted my scarce leisure reading time on it otherwise.

      – I have really enjoyed several other very commercial titles. A great example is ‘Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore’ by Robin Sloan (see my review http://www.bookloverbookreviews.com/2013/04/book-review-mr-penumbras-24-hour-bookstore-by-robin-sloan.html) – the difference in that case being I really connected with the characters and it left a lasting impression on me.

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