HQ | 2019 (5 September) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book
One Monday morning, four people get into a lift in Manhattan, New York. Everything seems normal until the lift stops. And then everything goes very wrong indeed. It seems to be a terrible accident but then, a week later, another lift kills. The city is in shock. How can a skyscraper city manage without its elevators? The authorities don’t know how to deal with it. Blame flies between them, with many pointing a finger at the Mayor who, in turn, has his eye on others. Two detectives and a journalist race against time to stop the panic, to catch the killer. And meanwhile people die, not just in the lifts but also on the stairs as people are faced with climbs of over a hundred flights of stairs. The city is being held to ransom. But why?
I’m embarrassed to say that Elevator Pitch is the first novel by Linwood Barclay that I’ve read but what an introduction to his books this is! The premise is very enticing and the thriller fully delivers on it. Elevator Pitch is thoroughly exiting, tense and exhilarating – there were moments when I just could not look. I also read this book when I was staying eight floors up in a hotel. It made that lift ride to breakfast each morning a little sweaty. But it was the perfect holiday read.
The story is fantastic but so too are the characters as we spend time with a range of people, as we get to know a little about how this city is run. Battle lines have been drawn between the journalist, Barbara, and the Mayor and it’s now got very personal indeed. It’s worth pointing out, though, that this is not a simple case of the evil city Mayor. Richard Headley is much more complicated than that. Meanwhile two detectives, one near the start of his career, the other nearing the end, bring their very different skills together to try and solve this case. And there’s a countdown. A very special public event will take place shortly. The world will be watching and elevators will be needed.
There’s a social message as well. This is a city divided between rich and poor, with the rich enjoying living and working in the roof of the city in its skyscrapers. Radical groups are gaining media attention, terrorist acts are taking place across the northeastern United States. Time is ripe for the elevator killer to cause maximum terror. This is thrilling stuff! This is the type of thriller, with a political element thrown in, that I find irresistible and I gobbled it up, even though it made me eye that hotel lift with more than a little unease. There were also some unexpected moments of emotional shock. Excellent!