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Review: Lock Every Door

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Rating: 4/5 stars
Summary:
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.

I saw this book a couple of “page turner thriller” kinds of lists, and I was looking for a fun and suspenseful read. This book has a slow but tense start, where you know things are a little too good to be true and there is an undercurrent of unease as you try to figure out what the Bartholomew is hiding. I was hooked, and I liked that the main character, a woman in her 20s, wasn’t rich and married to a psychopath like most thrillers featuring women as the main characters. Jules doesn’t have a lot of family or resources, and you can see why the apartment-sitting gig is too good to pass up, even if it does seem strange.

The book started out really suspenseful and interesting, but as the book went on, I felt like Jules was being increasingly stupid. I started out rooting for Jules and liking the fact that she was inquisitive and cared about her new friends, even though she hadn’t known them for very long. On the other hand, I felt like her past trauma was a bit exploitative, like you were supposed to care more about her because she had a deeply tragic past even though that past really had nothing to do with the story. I find it interesting when detectives have tragic pasts or suppressed memories that resurface when they’re on a similar case, like in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, because it adds another layer to the story. In this case, Jules could have had any past and it wouldn’t have made much difference to her character or the plot. Also, once Jules figured out something was deeply wrong at the Bartholomew, her stubbornness and desperation for money seemed unrealistic to me. I know that when you’re out of cash, it can be really tempting to put yourself in dangerous situations to get more money, but would you put your life in danger? What’s the point of making money if you won’t survive long enough to need it? I think I would have bought into this more if the stakes had been “There’s a chance I might get hurt but the money will be worth it” instead of “I know someone disappeared and was possibly killed doing the same job as me but I’ll stay until I get paid”.

I really liked that the Bartholomew, the building where most of the story takes place, has a life of its own. With gargoyles and creepy wallpaper, it has a really nice Gothic vibe that I think lent itself to the suspenseful atmosphere. On the other hand, the actual secret of the Bartholomew felt ridiculous and too far out of left field to be satisfying. Mexican Gothic had a similarly creepy house with a terrible past and mysterious shady things going on in the present. In that book, the perpetrators justified their extreme actions with a belief in their inherent superiority, and this blind faith and arrogance felt earned because of the dynamics of colonialism. In this one, the secret stuff at the Bartholomew felt too extreme for modern New York and not morally ambiguous enough for me to buy into it.

I had some mixed feelings about the end, but for most of the book I was really curious and excited to find out what was really going on at the Bartholomew. This was indeed a page-turner and really compelling for most of the book, and overall I did enjoy it.

3 thoughts on “Review: Lock Every Door”

  1. Thanks for the reiew! I, too, get frustrated by “tragic past to create empathy but has no bearing on the story,”- it’s exploitative and supports the justification of trauma for the sake of ‘character development’ as opposed to allowing trauma to be a random, terrible thing that just sits in your life. Sounds, too, like it was maybe set in the wrong era/area? Like it would’ve been easier to justify the stakes if isolation was also a thing, or if there were no support infrastructure in the city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! If this mysterious building was in the middle of nowhere or it was set in a time before cell phones and instant communication, I think I would have bought into Jules being trapped. As it was, I felt like there were just flimsy excuses for why the police or friends or social support services couldn’t help her in this situation.

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  2. Hmm, I agree about the trauma for dramatic effect being exploitative, for sure. And I love your idea in the comment above that it would have been way better had it been in a remote place- especially because that could be an explanation for the technology issue! It does sound like you were curious throughout, which is kind of the most important thing in a mystery to me, but I also feel like Jules’ ridiculous life choices would have started to irk me, too 😂

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