Elevator Pitch, by Linwood Barclay

Eight stars

I was pleased to get my hands on the latest Linwood Barclay novel, as I find the author never fails to keep me thinking throughout a reading experience. Barclay turns the relatively mundane elevator into a masterful inanimate antagonist in this piece that may leave readers debating whether to ‘take the stairs’ next time. It was a Monday like any other in New York City, until it wasn’t. When an elevator plummets in a Manhattan office tower, four are dead and Mayor Richard ‘Dick’ Headley is forced to do some damage control. In the Office of the Mayor, anyone who can seeks to spin this and turn it on poor inspector records, though there is barely any time to breathe before new fires emerge. A gritty journalist, Barbara Matheson, wants answers and Headley’s head on a platter. She rushes to the scene and discovers a personal tie to the accident, one she was not expecting. Meanwhile, NYPD Detectives Bourque and Delgado are called to the scene of a body found by a jogger. They run the few leads they have and identify the victim as an elevator repairman, but there is still no clear motive for his murder. When another elevator plummets on Tuesday, all eyes turn to Mayor Headley, who is scrambling to keep his city at ease while wondering what is going on. Further acts of violence, including a bombing and yet another elevator mishap lead some to wonder if this is the work of a domestic terror organization seeking to push their message out however they can. When it is discovered that someone has planted cameras in all the elevators that crashed, new theories about how one might be able to ‘remotely control’ the elevators emerges, only fuelling the idea that this might be a form of terrorism. Barbara Matheson works her magic and finds a parallel between all three locations of the elevator malfunctions, which could cause havoc if it’s released too soon. While the world watches, New Yorkers are left paralyzed as all elevators are shut down by decree of the mayor. Political suicide, perhaps, but there has to be an answer somewhere in all of this. Barclay offers a thrilling ride that will leave all readers a little less certain about what they would do when arriving in a lobby of a multi-storey building. Recommended to those who love a good thriller, as well as readers who are longtime fans of Linwood Barclay.

I can usually count on Linwood Barclay to serve up a wonderful novel that will send chills up my spine and cause many of my brain synapses to spark. His ideas are well plotted, though there is usually a twist or two that could not have been predicted. With a wide cast of characters, it is hard to choose a single as the protagonist. The reader can learn a little more about Detective Jerry Bourque and the personal struggles he has on the job, while trying to solve this murder, or they might want to focus their attention on Mayor Headley, who is always keen on spinning things to go in his direction. The character development of Barbara Matheson is intriguing, both from a personal and professional angle. She has a gritty nature to her, but it is surely one the reader will enjoy, given the opportunity to envelop themselves in her backstory. There are many other characters from which the reader can choose when focussing their attention. Some may say this multi-layer story can distract the reader, but I find that it all connects together on some level and serves to permit a variety of views on a single, large event. The entertainment factor is high yet again, as Barclay uses this multi-character approach, pulling the reader in deeper. The story itself was quite ingenious, taking something as simple as an elevator and turning it into a weapon. The plot moves along well,, not rushing but also not dragging, as Barclay seeks to give the reader something to ponder while the story advances. With a mix of chapter lengths and just the right amount of suspense built in, the reader can follow as the narrative gathers momentum. There is certainly a great pace here and I can only hope readers find themselves as enthralled as I was in this piece. I may stay away from elevators for a while… or take the risk!

Kudos, Mr. Barclay, for another great novel. I can always count on a wonderful story when you are at the helm.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons