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Sister Mary Murderous

Favorite genres are traditional mystery, police procedurals, espionage, Eurocrime, literary fiction and nonfiction history, especially WW2 and Cold War.  I write about crime fiction at Read Me Deadly (www.readmedeadly.com)

Sophomore slump

The Accident - Chris Pavone

Have you heard that slogan, "Information wants to be free" ? In The Accident, a certain bit of information is bursting to be free and, at the same time, in danger of being obliterated, along with everybody who has come into contact with it.

A mysterious messenger delivers a hard copy of a manuscript titled The Accident to literary agent Isabel Reed. An exposé that would destroy Charlie Wolfe, a media mogul with political ambitions, the manuscript quickly multiplies and gets into the hands of assistants, competing agents and editors. Isabel knows she has a dangerously hot property, but she doesn't expect that anybody who touches the manuscript will be targeted for death, and that she will have to go on the run to avoid being another victim.

Chris Pavone made a big splash with his first book, The Expats, but The Accident isn't up to that standard. It's a stylish and energetic thriller, but it suffers from having too many characters, and cutting so frequently back and forth among them that it's hard to engage with the story or the characters. Sometimes it's even hard to keep the characters straight.

The big, elephant-in-the-room problem is the notion that in this day and age, a hot exposé would go out in hard copy only, rather than be uploaded to the internet. The entire plot depends on this contrivance, but the book's explanation of why hard copy is better than electronic seemed nonsensical to me. All along, I kept thinking just one person needed to take the manuscript, OCR it and send it out to a few media outlets. Of course, then the whole story would go poof.

Given how good The Expats was, I'll give Chris Pavone another chance, but I definitely won't be recommending this one to anybody.

2.5 stars

Thanks to the publisher and Amazon's Vine program for providing an advance reviewing copy.