“Elevator Pitch” by Linwood Barclay opens with Stuart Bland preparing to pitch his script “Clock Man” to Sherry D’Agostino of Cromwell Entertainment, but the elevator they are riding in does not stop, and then the elevator is in free fall, until it hits bottom.
The scene immediately shifts to city hall where Mayor Richard Wilson Headley and his son, Glover Headley, are attempting to wrangle out from under attacks by media involving accusations of favoritism in awarding city contracts. It is business as usual in the zoo that is city politics. The mayor goes to the site of the elevator accident mostly to dodge the press. After all, elevator accidents are rare in New York City, only one or two per year; there are more reports of alien abduction than elevator accidents. Amidst the political chaos, there is another tragedy, a murder on the High Line. Then, there is another elevator accident. People are frightened; the mayor is speechless; and the media is arguing amongst themselves. Is this a threat to foundations of American life or is it all just fake news designed to create panic over nothing?
The pace is fast, the action intense, taking place over just a few days. The magnitude of the story grows exponentially hour-by-hour. Alternating chapters show the complex actions from the perspective of each of the participants. Readers see the whole day, what everyone is doing, what everyone is planning. However, participants do not know about the others until their paths intersect, sometime in tragic ways. Characters are well defined, complex, and significantly impact others as their paths intertwine, disengage, and merge into one terrifying tale.
Be advised, Barclay is a master of misdirection, deception and hiding secrets in plain sight. No one is really who he or she appears to be at first, perhaps not even the terrorists. Some pieces of the puzzle fall easily into place, but not all; even the most perceptive and careful readers will be surprised at the end.
Barclay gives a nice “shout out” to socks with library cards (by “out of Print”) and mentions significant New York landmarks that are worth finding Google Maps including The High Line, The Strand Bookstore, Grand Central Market, the entrance to Central Park Zoo, and the Morning Star Café.
Are there lessons to be learned? Of course, actions have consequences,
and TAKE THE STAIRS.
I received a review copy of “Elevator Pitch” from Linwood Barclay and William Morrow. Readers should set aside time to read because once started, this book is impossible to put down.