A Bookish Thriller: The Accident

Earlier this year, Tanya at 52 Books or Bust wrote a post about The Accident by Chris Pavone that made me want to run out and buy the book immediately. She made it sound like such a fun read. My mom actually bought the book for me last week and I couldn’t wait to finally read it.

I finished it yesterday and it was so much fun. Chris Pavone knows how to write a great thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story starts relatively small – literary agent Isabel Reed has been up all night reading a bombshell manuscript and realizes that, if it’s true, a lot of people could be affected. As the story progresses, you see how big the story actually is, its consequences rippling through multiple lives.


Isabel Reed makes a copy to give to an editor friend of hers and before you know it both of them are running for their lives. A subsidiary rights agent at the same publishing house as the editor heard about the manuscript from Isabel’s indiscreet assistant at a bar the night before. She makes a stealth copy to take with her on her trip to LA to pitch potential movie ideas to a producer. And in Copenhagen, a spy finds himself handling a situation with a dead student – it should have been a much more straightforward scenario.

The story gives you snippets of this dangerous manuscript, spells out what about it is so damaging, why a powerful someone would want to stop its publication. Pavone does reward your obsessive reading with regular answer crumbs. By the time I read the last page, it wasn’t a surprise. But I loved it anyway.

It’s not that often that I get to read a thriller that has to do with the publishing industry. Pavone writes knowledgeably about the realities of the industry (he was an editor for 20 years) which lends the whole thing a lot of credibility. He also has no problem killing off characters. Maybe not at the same level as George R. R. Martin but still – people are killed off fairly regularly.

The story’s perspective changes several times (a theme in my reading these days apparently), taking you further and further from the eye of the storm. Soon the action is taking place in Europe, New York, the Hamptons and LA; all this in the space of 24-36 hours.

I learned a lot from this book – mostly how to try and outrun spies. Check your bag for possible tracking devices, chuck your phone, hopefully you will have some wealthy friends with secondary residences you can hole up in. Ideally you have piles of money that can help you buy multiple new identities. And I know that I will be tracking down his other book, The Expats.

10 thoughts on “A Bookish Thriller: The Accident

  1. I’ve heard a few things about this book but none of those reviews made The Accident sound as fun as yours did. I was intrigued before, but even more so now. I love a good thriller, and have heard a lot of positive thoughts on Chris Pavone’s writing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one.

  2. Ooh, this sounds like a great read! Like Naomi, I’m not usually into thrillers, but it might be easier if it’s about the publishing industry 😉 This does sound like a great read and I’ll keep it in mind if I’m looking for a thriller. Great review as always!

    • I think the fact that it’s about the publishing industry will appeal to a whole other segment of readers, ones that normally don’t read thrillers. Would love to know what you think if you end up reading it! It would make an excellent beach read…

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