Trapeze | 2019 (25 July 2019) | 368p | Review copy | Buy the book
Sam, Jules and Sylvie have been gathered together by their Team leader Vincent for a late night meeting at Stanhope, one of the most high profile and elite merchant banks in New York City. Even Vincent doesn’t know what it’s about as they get into the lift. But the lift stops dead and the lights go off. A TV Monitor tells them that they have entered an Escape Room. They have an hour to solve some clues in order to escape. If not, they will be dead. Some of the four have taken part in Escape Rooms before. They’re well-known team building exercises. They just have to work together. But for these four, who do not get along and are each hugely ambitious, competitive and ruthless, this will not be easy. Each of them has somewhere else they want to be. And conditions in the lift are cramped, dark and hot. And then they answer one of the first clues – the answer is Sara Hall, a colleague ‘now gone but not forgotten’. This changes everything. They soon realise that they are fighting for their lives.
The premise of The Escape Room is so fantastic and appealing that I read it as soon as I could and devoured it in just one day. I wanted a fun, escapist thriller to read over the holiday weekend and I made the perfect choice with this. It is so exciting! And the four in the lift are just so despicable. Instead of rooting for them to survive, you can’t help wishing they would get their just desserts. We learn more and more about them as the novel goes on and what we learn is not pretty. And it’s made all the more fascinating because some of these characters, such as Sam, would say that he is one of the good guys and believe it.
Chapters depicting what takes place in the lift alternate with those which tell the story of Sara Hall, a young woman who excelled academically but has fallen on difficult times, desperate to make that break. She receives it, unexpectedly and wonderfully, from Stanhope and now she has a glorious future ahead. The chapters describing company life at Stanhope are brilliant. This is another world entirely. It’s intoxicating. It’s cliquey. It’s mesmerising.
I love thrillers that take place within a confined space and you can’t get a space much more confined than a lift. This is the stuff of nightmares and the panic, tension and misery of it are captured perfectly. This side of the novel is utterly gripping but so too is the story of Sara Hall. I just could not put this book down. There are slightly preposterous elements of it, I think that the ending is slightly rushed (but otherwise satisfying), but on the whole I think that The Escape Room is a huge success and I couldn’t gobble it up quickly enough. Without doubt this is one of my top reads of the year so far.