Who Knew Being a Novelist Was That Dangerous? The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

So, I didn’t know ahead of time that the author of this summer’s “it” book, “The Plot,” also wrote the novel on which HBO’s “The Undoing” was based. But it makes perfect sense.

Both are delicious thrillers that you’re compelled to read or watch ’til the bitter, captivating end.

(It also might make you wonder if Jean Hanff Korelitz has a sociopathic muse. But if she keeps writing like this, fine by me.)

“The Plot” came to me through several recs that popped up on friends’ social media streams. I was not disappointed. Easy to fall right into, engaging enough I had to leave the book in another room on another floor of my house so that I wouldn’t be distracted while trying to work, “The Plot”‘s, well, plot, engages readers with two separate stories — the one about the writer and the one the writer wrote.

We’re introduced to our protagonist, Jacob Finch (yes, as in Atticus) Bonner, as a failed author — a one-hit wonder that finds himself teaching a low-level MFA program at a small town college that is on its last leg. When he meets up with a student that isn’t really interested in learning because you know that type they think they already know everything, well … life goes on, Jake eventually forgets the guy but never quite forgets the tantalizing story outline he shared with him one evening.

Fast forward a couple of years and Jake is living the good life — bestselling novelist, optioning the rights for film, and traveling the country in support of his critically acclaimed thriller. Problem is, some stories really aren’t meant for publication. (I’d also like to officially adopt this as my excuse for not writing a book yet. Because I might inadvertently steal someone else’s idea and what if that person likes to murder people?)

And there begins the two-person tango between celebrated author and anonymous accuser. Can Jake figure out who is threatening to expose him before he loses everything?

To go into detail here could detract from your experience, so I’ll just say this — Korelitz knows how to write a thriller. And sure, you might guess one of the plot points, but you won’t guess them all, making for a highly enjoyable reading experience.

Ah, Jake. I’m not sure if I am really supposed to like you, but I do.

If you haven’t read this yet, DO. And if you have read this already, I would also highly recommend John Boyne’s “A Ladder to the Sky.” Ironically, the plot line is similar, only I would suggest readers of that book are likely to actively root for Jake’s counterpart to meet his maker. That Maurice! A total cad.

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