Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review –

Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, wasn’t so much a horror novel as a commentary about horror movies in novel form. It was clever but also very well-crafted. The author tried to do something similar with The Last Time I Lie, which came out a year later and with significantly less satisfying results. This new novel is another attempt to make the model work. Whether or not it does depends on how invested one is in formula for the sake of formula.

Jules Larsen is getting over a breakup and the loss of her job when she finds a gig that seems too good to be true: The Bartholomew, a storied Manhattan building, wants to pay her thousands of dollars to simply occupy a vacant—and luxurious—apartment. Jules soon gets the feeling that all is not as it seems at the Bartholomew, which is, of course, a perfect setup for some psychological suspense, but the problem is that there is little in the way of narrative tension because Jules’ situation is so obviously not right from the very beginning. While interviewing for the job, she’s asked about her health history. She’s informed that she is not allowed to have guests in the apartment. She’s warned that she must not interact with or talk to anyone else about the building’s wealthy and famous inhabitants. And she learns that she will be paid under the table. While this might not be enough to deter someone who is broke and desperate, it does mean that Jules should be a bit more concerned than she is when the really scary stuff starts happening. 

Once the reader/listener discovers the secret of The Bartholomew, things start happening at a faster pace and the ending appears in hyper speed, almost too fast for me, but still very satisfying.

As I was listening I couldn’t help being reminded of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Sentinel by Jeffery Konvitz and The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike.

The paranoia and tension will make this a great book to take on vacation this summer, but perhaps reading it alone at night would be second guessed.

 

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Review –

I absolutely loved this book!

Anyone who grew up watching horror movies in the 1980s knows that summer camp can be a dangerous place.

It certainly was for Emma Davis during her first stay at Camp Nightingale. The other three girls in her cabin disappeared one night, never to return. Fifteen years have passed, years in which Emma has revisited this ordeal again and again through her work as a painter. When she’s offered another opportunity to spend a summer at the camp, Emma barely hesitates. She’s ostensibly there to serve as an art instructor, but her real mission is to finally find out what happened to her friends.

Thrillers are, by their very nature, formulaic. The author met the demands of the genre while offering a fresh, anxiety-inducing story in Final Girls. The author is less successful here. Part of the problem is the pacing. It’s so slow that the reader has ample time to notice how contrived the novel’s setup is.

Emma is clearly unwell, so her decision to go back to the site of her trauma makes some sense, but it’s hard to believe that the camp’s owners would want her back, especially since she played a pivotal role in turning one of them into a suspect and nearly ruining his life. As a first-person narrator, Emma withholds a lot of information, which feels fake and frustrating; moreover, the revelations—when they come—are hardly worth the wait. And it’s hard to trust an author who gets so many details wrong. For example, Emma’s first summer at Camp Nightingale would have been around 2003 or so. It beggars belief that a 13-year-old millennial wouldn’t be amply prepared for her first period, but that’s what Sager wants readers to think. There’s a contemporary scene in which girls walk by in a cloud of baby powder, Noxzema, and strawberry-scented shampoo, imagery that is intensely evocative of the 1970s and ’80s—not so much 2018. The novel is shot through with such discordant moments, moments that lift us right out of the narrative and shatter the suspense.

But, with that being said, I loved the book and count Riley Sager as one of my new favorite writers.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Review –

Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter, then a college student, became the sole survivor of the Pine Cottage Murders, a massacre that claimed five of her friends.

Now a successful baking blogger, living with her public defender boyfriend,Jeff, in a beautiful Manhattan apartment, she likes to think she’s gotten past the trauma — she’s even conveniently forgotten most of that night’s events. Only her wine and Xanax dependency, some light kleptomania, and a complete unwillingness to talk about the murders say otherwise.

But her denial holds no sway with the press, which labels Quincy a “Final Girl” — one of three sole female survivors of headline-grabbing massacres who fascinate the public. When the first of the Final Girls is found dead in her bathtub, the second one shows up in New York, looking for Quincy. Sam is cagey about her history and quick to force intimacy with Quincy. She doesn’t buy the all-is-well front, and seems dead set on releasing Quincy’s demons, including her repressed memories of the murders.

And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

The author keeps the reader guessing as to the WHAT, WHY and WHO with a couple of gigantic twists that you  won’t see coming.  I loved it and gave it five stars!