The Chopin Manuscript (Harold Middleton #1), by Jeffrey Deaver, et al. [International Thriller Writers]

Eight stars

Under the auspices of a new form of writing project, the International Thriller Writers (ITW) worked to create an audiobook story with many top-name contributors. Led by the opening and closing chapters by Jeffrey Deaver, these ITW members created quite the story that mixes history, action, and a mystery that spans the globe. After working on international criminal tribunals in the Balkans, Harold Middleton is trying to make his way back to D.C. He’s stopped in Warsaw, but not because of the manuscript he has in his carryon. It would appear that a group with whom he was seen speaking died hours later. Middleton is baffled, but wonders if it might have something to do with the aforementioned manuscript. Middleton discovered this presumed lost Chopin piece while in Kosovo, but he is unsure of its authenticity. He wishes to look deeper, as it might be a Nazi relic used to communicate. When he is freed by Polish authorities and makes his way to Washington, another clash occurs and two policemen are left dead. Now, Middleton is sure that someone is seeking to find him and take possession of this manuscript, with nefarious intentions. He presumes it could be the infamous Faust, a man Middleton encountered while working in the Baltic region. When others close to Middleton are targeted, he can only presume that there is something within this Chopin manuscript that is more valuable than simply the notes, though he is still unsure what he has in his possession. He’ll need to act fast if he wants to protect those closest to him, as well as the larger population, from a madman’s plans. An interesting collaborative effort that allows the reader to see many writing styles bound together. Recommended to those who like collaborative efforts of this nature and fans of international mysteries.

I know I read this piece years ago, likely when it was newly released on Audible, but I could not remember much of it. With three instalments to the series, I thought I ought to return and read it, while also appending a review for others to see. The story is quite well developed and the constant character advancement leaves the reader fully involved in the process. Harold Middleton is quite the character, having been through a great deal over the years. He is not part of the formal police authorities, though his attention to detail and drive to solve the case gives the reader an interesting flavour for his sleuthing abilities, as seen through the eyes of fifteen authors. Others in the story work through some of the interesting thriller themes of the time (Balkan terrorism and fallout from the regional wars) and provide the reader with something interesting to enjoy. Succinct development within each chapter is essential before the author hands it off to another to further build on an aspect or leave it to wilt. The story was good for a collaborative effort of this size. The reader who can comprehend how hard it is to intertwine so many writing styles into a single piece will not be as judgmental with the final product. That said, the overall effort is one that has me rushing to get my hands on the sequel, written in the same style.

Kudos, Mr. Deaver et al., for completing this unique writing assignment and offering it up to readers. I have always loved the challenge the ITW pushes on its members to work outside their comforts to appease the reading public.

This book fulfils Topic #1: More Cow Bell in the Equinox #8 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: