accidentI’ve never encountered an embargoed book that was worth the embargo from the point of view of the reader. Although I understand well enough the point of the embargo to the publisher, who has sold a preview of some of the “sensational” content to the media.

The Accident by Chris Pavone is a suspense novel by a well-connected author, an insider look at the attempt to  publish a non-fiction book that would doubtlessly be embargoed if it ever managed to see the light of day.

That’s the point. The content of this nonfiction manuscript within a novel, some of which we are allowed to read, is so damaging to a prominent  media mogul, who sounds like someone you would know, sort-of a twentieth first century William Randolph Hearst; that he will stop at nothing to destroy the manuscript and expend the lives of anyone who may possess it.

In this business, we are all privileged, and some of us may feel burdened, by our access to pre-publication galleys. Speaking for myself, I’m so used to reading pre-publication manuscripts that there’s a risk I’ll take this singular benefit for granted. It’s the most wonderful gift to read a manuscript before it’s published. The excitement of discovery before the media mill starts processing the text! The privacy of that early reading!

But imagine possessing a notorious galley that could get you killed. It’s an angle that allows Chris Pavone to present us with interior shots of the New York publishing world in all its perverse and incestuous glamour and all its workaday paper slogging and pencil pushing.

Editor Jeffrey has been in a multi-year slump and has not been sleeping very well. His fictional publisher, Bradford McNally, is on the ropes as well. He fears that the absorption of his family’s venerable publishing house by one of those soulless conglomerates may be unavoidable. Literary agent Isabel is hoping to found her own agency on the seven-figure sale of the tell-all manuscript that has the potential to bring down a media empire. Isabel’s assistant Alexis also has a copy of the manuscript in her first floor, rat trap of an apartment. Brit foreign rights agent, Camilla, no friend of Isabel’s, has actually stolen a copy of the manuscript and is flying to Hollywood to sell the rights to a producer, access to whose office she has earned in part with her ass.

One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when literary agent Isabel, who realizes she is in the “pre-dismissal” stage at her company, tries to lift her copy of The Accident out of her agency’s building. She runs into her boss in the hallway who wants to know why Isabel is rushing off to lunch at 11:30 in the morning. Isabel storms past her and down a flight of stairs as she hears her boss call for security. Of course, I’m not telling you if Isabel escapes her office building with the hot manuscript hidden in her bag.

The Accident by Chris Pavone will be published by Crown in March of 2014. And yes, I read a galley, thoughtfully provided by a friend in the publishing world who must remain anonymous to safeguard his security. And you will find me at the next BEA wearing pocket squares, because any guy who is at all cool in this novel is wearing pocket squares. I had a lot of fun reading The Accident by Chris Pavone, a crackingly hot novel of adventure and suspense about “our world”, the book world.