Anthony Zuiker’s Suspense Thriller 2.0

I am going to say from the outset that I want lots of comments on this post, because I think it will be warranted. And also because I am not quite sure what I think about it. But to sum up, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, whose memoir MR. CSI will be published next year by Collins, now adds fiction to his book resume – though not quite in the usual format, as Variety reports:

“CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker has made a seven-figure deal with Dutton to create a series of three suspense-thriller “digital novels.”


is a publishing hybrid that broadens traditional book reading into a

multiplatform experience that includes filmed components and an

interactive social networking site.

At the conclusion of each

five chapters, readers will be given codes to log onto a website that

will feature two-minute filmed vignettes providing a cinematic bridge

to the next five chapters. At the book’s conclusion, readers can join

an online community in which they can interact with others and hatch

characters and storylines. The best suggestions will be incorporated

into future titles, Zuiker said.

“I want to give traditional crime novel readers a more immersive experience,” Zuiker told Daily Variety.  The online component “offers publishing a chance to catch up with the YouTube generation that has lost passion for reading.”

Ah, but do traditional crime novel readers WANT a more immersive experience? That is the question. But then, this section, especially what I’m about to bold, is the most telling:

Zuiker came up with the idea when he set out to write a crime novel and realized he had problems with the traditional format. 


personally don’t have the attention economy to read a 250-page crime

novel from start to finish,” he said. “I realized that the way I’d like

to consume a novel is to be rewarded every couple of chapters by seeing

something visual that enhances the narrative.”**

Zuiker will

write a 60-page outline for each book, then supervise a novelist who’ll

turn it into a 100-chapter book. Zuiker will write and direct 20

“cyber-bridges,” the two-minute video segments that supplement the


So basically Zuiker wants to have his Patterson cake and eat it too? Which is fine, but again, is this for the “traditional” crime writer or some nebulous larger audience that DC might reach more effectively with its upcoming Vertigo Crime line, or kills its hours with GTA IV or Spore?

Clearly changes are afoot, and they must be afoot in an industry that is as confused about the future as it’s ever been. But is this the way to go? I don’t know, and I’m skeptical, but also damn curious.