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Arthur Pfefferkorn is a has-been, or perhaps a never-was: a middle-aged college professor with long-dead literary aspirations. When his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallèe, is lost at sea, Pfefferkorn is torn between envy and grief, for de Vallèe not only outshone Pfefferkorn professionally, but married the woman Pfefferkorn loved.

When Pfefferkorn reconnects de Vallèe’s widow and she shows him an unpublished manuscript, Pfefferkorn steals the book and achieves the overnight success he always wanted. But his transgression sets in motion a series of surreal events, plunging him into a shadowy realm of double crosses and intrigue, a world where no one can be trusted – and nothing can be taken seriously.


“The coincidences and the over-the-top story make the entire novel fun in completely unexpected ways.  Only a great writer like Kellerman could make it all work this well.” – RT Book Reviews

“Kellerman (The Executor, 2010) plays this one largely for laughs…but [he] is simply too interesting a writer to leave it at that. He also ruminates on the practice of writing, the experience of sudden literary success, the nature of friendship, and the contrasts between the lives of writers and spies. Potboiler is very funny—and insightful.” – Booklist

“Kellerman makes witty use of thriller clichés, especially at the rousing finale.” – Publishers Weekly


Jesse Kellerman was born in Los Angeles in 1978. He has published four novels: THE EXECUTOR, THE GENIUS, TROUBLE and SUNSTROKE. He also holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in theater. He has won several awards for his writing, including the 2003 Princess Grace Award, given to America’s most promising young playwright, and the 2010 Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle, for Les Visages (The Genius). He lives with his wife and son in California.

To learn more about Jesse, please visit his website.