Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crack for Readers, The Accident

A dangerous manuscript, a literary agent, the CIA, Zurich, and Copenhagen. The perfect set-up for a thriller—crack for readers. And it only got better once I started the book.

At the beginning, I was concerned with the plethora of characters and viewpoints, which often turns a novel into a confusion of characters where you have to turn back to earlier chapters to remember who is who. But Chris Pavone does a great job of making each character memorable enough to keep straight.
It is the choices of these characters that drive an intricate plot, which unwinds in a frenetic twenty-four hour period. Not only are the plot and characters well-written, the writing itself is clean and free of the clichés that often find their way into thrillers.

The Accident is a perfect weekend read or, in my case, excellent treadmill reading. And I have to give five stars to any book that makes me lose track of how far I’ve run.

N.B. This book does contain some adult situations and language.

(I was given a free copy of this novel by "Blogging for Books" in exchange for an honest review.)

A Conversation with Chris Pavone 
(Edgar and Anthony Award winner and New York Times bestselling author) 

Q) Your debut novel, The Expats, was widely praised, both in the national media (New York Times, 
USA Today, Entertainment Weekly) and by some of the biggest names in the industry (John 
Grisham, Patricia Cornwell, and more), was optioned for film, sold in 18 countries, and debuted on 
the Times bestseller list! You’ve worked in publishing almost your entire career; were you prepared 
for that kind of reception for your first book? 
A) I was completely prepared for absolutely no one to buy, read, or review The Expats. If there’s one 
thing that’s seems hard for a publisher to do, it’s to launch a debut novel successfully. Why would anyone 
buy it? But if publishers don’t take flyers on first-timers, sooner or later there won’t be any novels at all. 
I’m amazed and immensely grateful that my vulnerable little boat wasn’t completely lost in the sea of the 
hundred-thousand-plus new books published every year.

Q) You were inspired to write The Expats while living abroad in Luxembourg. Your current home, 
New York, features prominently in The Accident, but parts of the novel are also set in Europe—
Copenhagen, Paris, Zurich. Was this new novel also inspired by your travels? 
A) Yes, my travels have definitely inspired my writing. And it’s not just the traveling: My first book was 
based on my experiences as an expat stay-at-home parent, suddenly without the self-definition of a career, 
trying to invent a new version of me, while the new one is drawn from my two decades in publishing. But 
The Accident is definitely not about book publishing, just as The Expats wasn’t about Luxembourg. The 
Accident is about ambition, and the permanent weight of decisions made in youth, and the ways we 
become people we didn’t intend to become. Plus—as with The Expats—spies and crimes and a great deal 
of duplicity.

 Q) The world of book publishing figures prominently in The Accident. Was it fun to dissect the 
many aspects of the business? Any details with which you took creative license? 
A) I have great admiration for book-publishing people, who’ve all chosen careers that are dedicated to 
helping other people—authors—achieve creative dreams, and to entertaining and enlightening readers, 
and to do all this for very little money or recognition; there’s not really such a thing as a rich or famous 
book editor. So The Accident isn’t a satire, and I have no ax to grind. I do admit to taking a bit of license 
in a few minor particulars, mostly to avoid an excess of exposition, and to keep my cast of characters 
down to a reasonable number. 
Q) I imagine it must be hard NOT to draw on personal experiences, having worked with many 
authors, editors, agents, and publicists in your line of work. Are any of the characters in the book 
based on real people? 
A) Yes, but I won’t say who. I hope that for some readers, part of the fun of The Accident will be 
Q) The protagonist in The Expats, Kate Moore, makes a small cameo in The Accident, while Hayden 
Gray, a peripheral character in your debut, features prominently here. Why? 
A) I absolutely loved everything about The Wire, and in particular the way the seasons related to one 
other: different narratives populated by mostly different characters set in different milieus, but all within 
the same interconnected world. I think this is a brilliant way of telling fresh stories with satisfying 
connections, from the same viewpoint, while avoiding the pitfalls of sequels and prequels and the 
constrictions of a traditional series. I’m trying to do something similar with these books. 


  1. sounds intriguing and exciting - great interview!

  2. Wow! Terrific review... AND interview.