Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay
My elder daughter introduced me to Linwood Barclays’ books when we were on vacation on the island of Mallorca. I have read, enjoyed and reviewed several of his novels since then. I even had the pleasure of meeting him once, he is a delightful man. When I saw Elevator Pitch, the title amused me, I was looking forward to reading it.
It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.
Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.
Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its Friday night ribbon-cutting.
I started this novel with great expectations because I have enjoyed every book of Linwood Barclay’s that I have read. Elevator Pitch certainly got off to a gripping start when a budding author follows a woman into a lift with a view to pitching his work to her before she get out of the elevator. Two other people get in, but the elevator doesn’t stop at any of the chosen floors. It crashes to the ground and all four are killed.
The Mayor of the city Richard Headley is being investigated by a journalist, Barbara Mathieson and is looking to his team for help to draw that to a close while police officers Bourque and Delgado are called to the scene of a murder and find the fingertips of the corpse have been removed.
The elevator crash seems to be a tragic accident until several similar emergencies occur around New York. This is an orchestrated attack, but it is not clear who is behind it nor who is the target as the victims have no links.
The story then weaves its way through Barbara’s investigation, the police officers’ case and Headley’s corruption. True to his roots, Barclay explains his characters backgrounds, and the reader gets to know them and understand why they act as they do.
Unfortunately, this author’s usual humour was lacking from Elevator Pitch and the number of strands to the story were interwoven quite late in the book and I did not warm to the characters. I was bitterly disappointed, because I had expected to enjoy the book, but regret that I did not.
Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for adults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.
Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. His two novels for children – Chase and Escape – star a computer-enhanced dog named Chipper who’s on the run from the evil organization that turned him into a super-pup.
Barclay’s 2011 thriller, The Accident, has been turned into the six-part television series L’Accident in France, and he adapted his novel Never Saw it Coming for the movie, directed by Gail Harvey and starring Eric Roberts and Emily Hampshire. Several of his other books either have been, or still are, in development for TV and film.
After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.
Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two grown children, Spencer and Paige.