Look Both Ways, by Linwood Barclay

Eight stars

Always eager to read Linwood Barlcay’s novels, I made some time in my schedule for this one. Combining his well-established talent with a life-long obsession of cars, Barclay entertains the reader while forcing them to think on just how technology could turn against us. With his stellar writing style leading the way, Barclay shows us a different side to his craft, which is equally as enthralling as his usual publications.

It’s a big day for Garrett Island, a small community that is about to help launch a new innovation in transportation. With all gas-consuming automobiles banned from the island, locals have been using Arrivals, the latest in self-driving technology. Operated by voice commands, Arrivals transport people all over the island, obeying all laws and virtually taking any worry out of being on the road. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

While many have been panning the experiment of self- driving vehicles, Sandra Montrose is counting on it to boost her image as a press relations exec with Arrival. She needs something good in her life, after the loss of her husband and straying of her teenage children. Sandra cannot see anything that could go wrong, as the cars appear perfectly in tune with what they need to do, which is garnering a great deal of positive feedback all over the United States.

However, disaster strikes and things go horribly wrong. With no other form of transportation on the island, the glitch has left people running for cover as the Arrivals appear to take on a life of their own. Panic ensues and people are soon targets for these dream cars. It’s only a matter of time before things turn deadly and there are many around the island who are fighting their own battles with these machines.

Part Christine and part Terminator, the story takes on a life of its own from a variety of perspectives. As each sub-plot inches closer to the centre, things come together and the truth behind the Garrett Island disaster becomes clear. However, could anyone have predicted what the end result would be or who might end up on the losing end? Linwood Barclay at his best in this one, which stirs up as many questions as it does answers.

There’s something about the work of Linwood Barclay that always has me coming back for more. His acerbic wit combined with a great ability to tell a story keeps the reader inthe middle of the action. Always eager to see how his plots will develop, I devour his books and find myself captivated with whatever is going on around me. I can only hope others see the same thing and end up just as taken aback.

Linwood Barclay provides a strong opening to lure the reader in, while keeping them guessing what is to coming. The narrative gains momentum and provides the perfect guide to what is sure to be a soapbox moment on technology and the sacredness of automobiles. However, with a cast of characters ready to explore all angles of vehicular technology, the story keeps developing while plots emerge. It is only when the reader is neck-deep into the tale that they find themselves unable to put the book down, waiting as new issues arise and any sort of resolution seems futile. As the multiple narrative perspectives collide, Barclay brings things home effectively and with purpose, leaving the reader fully embedded in the story at this point. A chilling tale that has hints of past car-based horror stories worth a few twists to keep things uniquely Linwood Barclay.

Kudos, Mr. Barclay, for keeping me hooked until the very end. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for fans soon.