Earlier this year I was introduced to Chris Pavone’s Edgar Award-winning debut novel The Expats. Originally, I found myself drawn to it not because it was a New York Times bestseller or an award winner but because it’s the only novel I’m aware of that’s set in Luxemburg. This makes The Expats an ideal book to read for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. I say this because while there’s no shortage of nonfiction books about, or novels set in France, Germany and the United Kingdom it’s not easy to find something representing the much smaller countries of Europe. Be that as it may, the most important thing about The Expats is I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much that within a week I hope to include it as part of my Best of 2014 English Language Fiction List.
After finishing The Expats I learned Pavone had recently written another novel, this time called The Accident. While officially not a sequel, I heard the novel would nevertheless have at least one character from The Expats. That all sounded great to me and so I figured someday down the road I’d read The Accident. But with so many books piled by my bed awaiting my attention I probably wasn’t going to read Chris Pavone’s newest novel anytime soon.
Well, that’s what I thought anyway. The other day while rummaging through the shelves at my local library what did I come across but a copy of The Accident. Since I have not one ounce of self-control I grabbed Pavone’s latest novel without a second thought. After leaving it ignored on my desk for a few days I cracked the thing open and began reading it. Then, in almost effortless fashion I raced through it in no time.
In his earlier novel, Pavone took on not just the intelligence community but life overseas as an American expat. This time around Pavone’s target is the publishing industry. When an unsolisited manuscript stealthily makes it way into the hands of literary agent Isabel Reed, all hell breaks loose. The manuscript in question is an unauthorized kiss and tell biography of Charlie Wolfe, one of those bazillionaire master of the universe media moguls. (Imagine Rupert Murdoch combined with Ted Turner and possessing the East Coast pedigree of the Bush family.) Written by one of Wolfe’s longtime friends and business partners, the biography threatens to expose Wolfe’s darkest and innermost secrets. Naturally, there’s no way Wolfe will allow the biography be published and enlists a small army of covert operatives to ensure the thing never sees the light of day.
Did I enjoy The Accident? Considering how quickly I whipped through Pavone’s latest offering I’d be a fool or a liar to say I didn’t. However, did I enjoy it as much as I did The Expats? I’d probably have to say, no. Perhaps one of reasons many people enjoyed The Expats so much is it’s not just a spy novel; it’s also a novel about relationships. Readers took a keen interest in Kate’s marriage, specifically her relationship with her husband Dexter. Seeing a former CIA assassin turned bored stay at home mom use her old cloak and dagger skills against the enchanting backdrop of the postage stamp country of Luxembourg made for entertaining, and charming reading. Even though the chief characters in The Accident do have their noteworthy familial issues (mostly existing in backstory and seen through flashbacks) that particular kind of charm feels like it’s missing in The Accident. But without revealing too much, let’s just say in The Accident, just like we saw with The Expats, spouses still keep serious secrets from each other. And that’s all I’m gonna say.