Saturday, September 15, 2007

Concerto for 15 Voices

The International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization calls The Chopin Manuscript “a unique collaboration among 15 distinguished international thriller writers.” And indeed, it’s hard to dispute that description. While novels have been composed in serial form (as was the case with 1998’s Naked Came the Manatee), with a variety of writers penning successive chapters, Chopin is being touted as the “first-ever audio serial book.” It’s a brilliant idea. According to the ITW’s Web site, Jeffery Deaver (Sleeping Doll) “conceived the characters and the setting,” and he hammered out chapter one, as well as the final two chapters, 16 and 17. The other 14 wordsmiths, including S.J. Rozan, David Corbett, Joseph Finder, Peter Spiegelman, and Lee Child then “propelled the story along” by contributing their own twists and turns. Jim Fusilli edited the project. (A full accounting of who worked on what can be found here.)

Chopin’s plot is summarized on the ITW site as follows:
Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton possesses a priceless, previously-unknown manuscript by Frederic Chopin. Within the notes of this work, which was originally found and hidden by the Nazis during World War II, lies a secret that has left death in its wake--and could kill tens of thousands more. As Middleton races to unlock the mystery of the manuscript, he is accused of murder, pursued by federal agents and targeted by assassins. But the greatest threat comes from a man known only as Faust--a shadowy figure from Middleton’s past. is marketing this “serial thriller” online. Beginning on Tuesday, September 25, listeners will receive two to three installments on a weekly basis, which they can download onto their computer, MP3 player, or (like me) iPod. The final Tuesday chapter will be delivered on November 13. Enjoying this story won’t be free, however. Until September 24, readers can sign up at to listen for $15.96. After that date, the retail price of these audio downloads will jump to $19.95. If you’d like to sample the story before plunking down your credit card, the ITW is offering a free listen-in on chapter one here, along with exclusive author videos. I actually watched the filming of those video segments in a book room at this last summer’s ThrillerFest convention in New York City. They are well-produced and pretty entertaining.

Advance publicity for this audio project has heightened intrigue. An article published earlier this week in USA Today quoted Deaver describing Chopin as “The Day of the Jackal meets The Da Vinci Code.” That sounds pretty kick-ass to me. And supplying the narration for The Chopin Manuscript is one of my favorite actors, the English-born Alfred Molina. From Doc Ock to Hercule Poirot, Molina throws himself into his roles with gusto. As author Fusilli (who wrote chapter 10 of Chopin) told USA Today, Molina’s narration is “urbane” and “gritty,” with “a sense of elegance.”

That’s music to my ears.

READ MORE:Mystery Authors Team Up on Audio Internet Book,” by Robert MacMillan (Reuters).

No comments: