Monday, August 12, 2019

Book Review: Lock Every Door

By Jami Deise

While the haunted house story may be the oldest horror trope there is, the haunted building story is just as compelling. The difference? While haunted houses are inhabited by ghosts, in haunted buildings, the worst crimes are committed by the living. From Rosemary’s Baby to 666 Park Avenue to those jerks who live above you in 3C and scream at each other every night, anyone who’s lived in shared housing knows that hell is other people.

In New York Times bestselling author Riley Sager’s latest, Lock Every Door, the building in question is one of New York City’s oldest and finest – the Bartholomew. For Jules Larsen, unemployed and homeless after a painful breakup, it’s a dream come true. An orphan whose sister went missing years ago, Jules accepts a dream job as an apartment sitter – four thousand a month for an amazing apartment that looks onto Central Park. Sure, the rules are a bit chafing – don’t talk to the other residents; spend every night in the unit; no visitors ever – but she can’t turn that money down. She has no choice.

As the book begins with Jules in a hospital bed after being hit by a car trying to escape the Bartholomew, readers know from the get-go that Jules’s dream job will turn into a nightmare. But are the villains the rich eccentric residents, or the other apartment-sitters?

Admittedly, the book is predictable and formulaic, but so are roller coasters, and both Lock Every Door and the roller coaster deliver a fun ride perfect for the summer. Alone in the world, Jules is a heartbreaking protagonist, desperate for connection and drawn to the building as her favorite childhood book took place there. Her desperation for funds – a predicament all too common for millennials like her -- makes it impossible for her to leave her job when she begins to suspect she could be in danger. The novel’s structure is strong as well, with its back-and-forth timeline creating tension in the present and breathing space in the past as Jules slowly gets to know her neighbors. Even with the two timelines, the entire book takes place in less than a week; reading it takes less than a few hours. Sager saves his best for last with the climax, writing Jules into such a tight box, it seems impossible for her to escape.

My one quibble is that for all of Jules’s wild fantasies about what was going on in the building, the revelation was all too mundane. A thriller like this should conclude with a truth that is beyond the protagonist’s imagination, not smaller than it. I was left feeling less like “No way could that ever really happen!” and more like “That’s probably happening somewhere right now.”

Bookbub and Parade magazine have named Lock Every Door as one of the summer’s hottest beach reads. Pack this book in your tote bag this vacation; if you’re not into actual roller coasters, you’ll get just as many thrills reading it.

Thanks to Dutton for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Riley Sager:

1 comment:

Dianna said...

I would love to read this!