Source: Review copy
Publication: 5 September 2019 from HQ
It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.
Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.
Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers . . .
I’m a huge Linwood Barclay fan, more so since I met him at Harrogate and found him to be an absolute gentleman. So I always knew I was going to want to read Elevator Pitch. I love that word play in the title, don’t you? There’s always a bit of humour worked into a Barclay story, irrespective of how suspenseful it is, and gosh this one is chock full of suspense.
Oddly enough, it isn’t the first elevator story I have read this year, Megan Golding’s The Escape Room also had bad things happening to people in elevators, but these are, of course, two very different stories.
Elevator Pitch is first and foremost a strongly plotted, crackingly well-told story. It has characters you want to root for, whether you belong to the generation that identifies with our protagonist, journalist and commentator, Barbara or her daughter, Arla, just embarking on her first job.
Barclay takes the New York vista with its tall and imposing high tech buildings, all glass and steel, and shows us what it means to have to rely on one piece of technology to make them work. For without elevators to keep the buildings occupants flowing, these places are just useless hunks of masonry.
It starts one Monday morning, without warning. Four people get into an elevator and all perish when it malfunctions and goes into plummeting freefall. Then the following day, there is another, deeply gruesome event in which a woman is killed in the most macabre accident.
In a city that is sadly no stranger to acts of terrorism, the old adage of ‘once is happenstance, twice coincidence’, simply does not fly. The Mayor of New York, Richard Wilson Headley, rumoured to be interested in political advancement beyond the city, finds himself in the unenviable position of having to explain these incidents to the public and to try and re-assure them of their continuing safety.
Detective Jerry Bourque and his partner, Lois Delgado of the NYPD are investigating the murder of an unknown man on the High Line, way above the NYC sidewalks. Someone has gone to great lengths to hide this man’s identity, but is it connected to the elevator deaths?
Then there’s the ‘Flyover Group’ a bunch of malcontents who despise the big city dwellers for their money and corruption as they fly from coast to coast over, as they see it, the little people, the people whom, the Flyovers contend, are the ones who really contribute to the culture of the great country of the USA. Their leader, Eugene Clement, just happens to be in town with his wife, ostensibly to celebrate their anniversary. But when a bomb goes off and responsibility is claimed by someone claiming to be inspired by the Flyovers, all attention is directed to them.
Barclay pulls together a compelling cast of very well drawn characters to fuel the tension that comes from a deathly, high stakes, claustrophobic setting in which ordinary people are pawns in the hands of a ruthless killer or killers.
As Barbara, no fan of the Mayor, piles the pressure on at press conferences, Headley is forced to order all elevators shut down until they can be checked and a public relations nightmare ensues.
Short, fast paced chapters help to ramp up the tension and the body count just goes up and up as the reader tries to work out who has the motive and the opportunity to put such a deadly plan into action. A brilliant final scenario lends a sharpness and breathtaking edge to the denouement, which is both shocking and surprising.
Verdict: Suspenseful, claustrophobic and gripping, Elevator Pitch is an intense thrill ride on a rollercoaster that twists and turns until you’re not sure which way it’s safe to turn. Highly recommended read from a master storyteller.
Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.
Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children.