” Who was the villain in this story? ” (Ch.54, p.486)
The Accident is a thriller about publishing. It concerns a manuscript by an anonymous writer that is so earth-shattering that people in the publishing world would kill to get their hands on it. The manuscript is sent to Isabel Reed, a New York literary agent renowned for her discretion. She knows how delicately the book needs to be handled. So while she pitches the manuscript to the best editor she knows, Jeffrey Fielder, the proof, also titled “The Accident,” has already gone into covert circulation. Her assistant read it secretly and blabbed drunkenly to her friends and posted about it on Facebook. It has even been photocopied by a subsidiary-right person hoping to see it in Hollywood. This means great danger to anyone who has come in contact with the manuscript, let alone Isabel herself.
There were the densely woven secrets he and Charlie Wolfe had been sharing for two decades, and the portion that he’d been keeping to himself There was also the new possibility that Charlie actually wanted him dead. (Ch.17, p.147)
Everyone sees the bombshell of the manuscript is the opportunity for a break. The publisher sees it as the life-saver to a company teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. All of which brings reader to Charlie Wolfe, a man who is the subject of the manuscript. His own media empire sustains on “de-newsing” the news, with a content bias toward gossip, innuendo, voyeurism and scandal. It pinches CIA’s nerves that exposure of Wolfe’s malpractice, which helps further the cause of the USA more or less, would compromise national security.
So the book proceeds with twist and turn galore. The unfortunate thing is that it’s easier for Pavone to conjure up shocking dramatic turns, abrupt killings, and unexpected connections than it is for him to come up with anything truly damning about Wolfe. The so-called secret is nothing but hyped. That said, The Accident is filled with keen, bittersweet observations about the publishing world. It pays tribute to the permanence of written word and the printed matter—that there is a validation, a legitimacy conferred by having a story out there in a physical form.
509 pp. Faber & Faber UK. Pocket Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]