Linwood Barclay has shot to prominence in recent years as an author of blockbusting thrillers. Although I've never met him, I attended an event at Harrogate in which, despite being questioned by an unfortunate interviewer who seemed to have succumbed to stagefright, he came over as a very affable and charming chap. At the time, giveaways of the first chapter of his latest book, The Accident, were distributed, and I thought that when I had a chance, I'd read the whole book.
This I've now done, and it's a very competent example of its kind. Decent entertainment, and I also enjoyed trying to analyse the method Barclay adopted in writing it. The book begins with a prologue which is dramatic but at one remove from the rest of the story - not a device that an author can use too often, I'd say. It ushers in a mystery which is mainly - but not entirely - about a corrupt scheme to sell bogus merchandise on the cheap. Unexpectedly, I found the main storyline less gripping than the sub-plot.
Most of the story is told in the first person by Glen, a likeable chap who isn't very fast on the uptake. Glen's wife Sheila is found dead after an apparent car accident. It seems as though she was a drink-driver, but Glen finds this hard to swallow. (I also found it difficult to believe that he would be sued for a massive sum by the family of the other people who died in the crash, and even if it's possible in US law, I'm not sure it was a necessary or convincing element of the plot.)
The limitations of first person narrative are dodged, as is sometimes the case in modern thrillers (the S.J. Bolton book I reviewed last week is another example), by the inclusion of a number of chapters from other viewpoints. The pace is relentless, but I felt the story sagged a bit before being wowed by two excellent twists. The first is cleverly clued (though one clue, from the recording of a telephone call, appeared on the printed page in a misleading way). The second reveals a hitherto unsuspected crime - very neatly done.
All in all, this book made a pleasant light read. Thanks mainly to that excellent double finale, I'll certainly be happy to read Linwood Barclay again.