cover image Potboiler


Jesse Kellerman. Putnam, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-15903-9

Kellerman’s insightful satire on publishing, bestsellers, and series continuing long after an author’s demise opens promisingly. Years earlier, Arthur Pfefferkorn’s one coming-of-age novel received “mild acclaim but sold poorly.” Arthur now ekes out a living as an adjunct professor “at a small college on the Eastern Seaboard.” He seethes over the success and wealth of his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallée, who married Arthur’s first love, Carlotta. After William is lost at sea, Arthur finds his friend’s last manuscript, plagiarizes the story, and becomes a bestselling author. But the price of Arthur’s new success unfurls into events that could be lifted from his thriller—a series of betrayals and double crosses with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kellerman (The Executor) makes witty use of thriller clichés, especially at the rousing finale, but the flaccid middle section suggests that this one-note joke might have worked better at novella length. Agent: Liza Dawson, Liza Dawson Associates. (June)