Elevator Pitch – Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay moves out of smalltown America into the city – and the result is one of his best novels for several years.

Barclay has made a career mining the intrigues, infidelities and insecurities of middle America for stories that keep you turning the pages, and with characters you might recognise amongst your own neighbours.

This time he raises the stakes with a high-concept thriller that is tailor-made for a mid-budget movie.

Someone is tampering with elevators across the city, sending passengers plunging to their deaths and even decapitating them.

As the city also suffers a series of bombings and Homeland Security is brought in, pressure grows on a mayor who is already stressing about rifts within his administration and criticism from journalists.

One of those hacks, Barbara, is particularly keen on exposing what she sees as the mayor’s corruption. She is under pressure herself, thanks to a strained relationship with the daughter she gave away years before.

Meanwhile two detectives are investigating a murder that could well provide the key to the mystery.

Barclay is a master of the smalltown novel, dissecting people's lives with the precision of a scalpel-wielding surgeon, but he handles his move to a bigger arena with great success.

But while Elevator Pitch has higher stakes, exploring terrorism by a group with thoroughly modern motives, at its core it shares much with his previous novels.

This story is all about the people, with their hopes and fears and flaws – the detectives, the journalist, the mayor, and their families – and it’s this human element that drives Elevator Pitch to its gripping conclusion.

David Knights