‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay

Well, this should probably have been much more fun than it was.

It’s got a great hook: someone taking over elevators in Manhattan and using them to kill people for reasons unknown. It has an easy to dislike and even easier to believe in Mayor of New York, a hard-bitten reporter who has dedicrated herself to showing people the kind of man the Mayor is. A detective suffering from PTSD after a shooting incident. Turbulent relationships between the Mayor and his son and the reporter and her daughter. A domestic terrorist group called ‘The Flyovers’ who are making war on ‘the coastal elite’ in the name of ‘the real America’. And it has that ‘this feels real’ tone that comes from being written by someone who spent a long time as a reporter in New York City.

There were parts of it that I really enjoyed. Much of it was tense. There were a lot of surprises both about the main characters and what the author was willing to do to them but all of them made sense in retrospect. There were some funny lines and acute observations and there was never a point when I lost my desire to know what happened next and understand how the various threads of the story, past and present would be woven together.

But…

…the tone of the book was all over the place, lurching from thriller to cop show to maudlin Hallmark Moment sentimentality. I was constantly aware of the author’s presence as he tried to press my buttons, ranging from ‘Don’t look there – look here’ through to ‘This will make ’em cry.’ As we got further into the ‘nasty things you can do with elevators’ scenes, I felt the author was teasing me. Playing cat and mouse with me as the mouse and the game being ‘You didn’t see that coming, didya?’

OK, it’s a thriller. All thrillers hustle our hearts and push up our anxiety. But I don’t like to see my strings as they’re being pulled.

This was my first Linwood Barclay book and will be my last. That being said, this would make great television.

I listened to the audiobook version which is delivered with style by Jonathan McClain. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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