Lock Every Door: Riley Sager
Hogwarts House Recommendation: Gryffindor
A luxury Manhattan apartment. Famous neighbors. $12,000. What could go wrong?
Everything. But Jules, trying to start her life over again, is up for the challenge of living at the historic Bartholomew. Sure, there are some strange rules, like not bothering the neighbors, or not inviting guests. But she’s lost so much–including her parents and sister who she never found again–that she is willing to overlook everything.
After bonding with a neighbor who reminds her of her missing sister, Jules soon realizes that there is more than meets the eye. She begins an investigation of her own and the things that she uncovers are frightening. But will she be able to survive long enough to get out?
I had said months earlier that I’d finally read the scariest book I’ve ever read. Behind Closed Doors, it was called. It was chilling in that it was something that it could really happen. I said it was already a good candidate for Overall Best Book in my 2019 Book Awards.
It now has some serious competition.
Lock Every Door appears to be your standard thriller. A character lands in a too-good-to-be-true situation and there’s probably a bad guy or girl in the midst. It’s more than that, though. This novel goes from just suspenseful (which I like) to Stephen King-scary to flat-out disturbing just like that–fair warning, then, that if you don’t have a strong stomach this probably won’t be the book for you, as the last third is pretty harrowing and not impossible. It never lets up in interest, from the glamorous apartment and interesting people to the times where things start going wrong. An apartment filled with rich and famous people is interesting on its own: favorite authors who wrote a book about said apartment, soap opera stars, and a handsome doctor are worth reading about without the suspense.
And what makes it truly terrifying? Again, it’s something that could really happen, albeit not without lots of work behind it. (The goings-on here are definitely something that exists.) The implications made me nauseous; not something that I don’t believe has ever happened with a book before. This isn’t a slight on Sager’s writing, though. In fact, the mounting terror makes everything seem much more real. The scenario that Jules finds herself in is certainly unique, but continues to go above and beyond as the story progresses. Adding to the fact is that she has pretty much no money left and would otherwise be left to her own devices.
Admittedly, I was worried I came across a spoiler on Goodreads well before beginning, not knowing that I was going to read this novel. Someone asked a question that said: “Do you think that ___________ had anything to do with it?” Armed with this possibility of knowledge, I was able to figure out why they’d be connected to the goings-on pretty easily. However, this is an ending that will be hard for most readers to guess, leaving them with a chill most of the way through. I certainly didn’t. My guess could have been because I had this knowledge, so I can’t speak for anyone else.
What else does this book have? A fun setting, quirky characters to offset the looming mystery, and Jules herself. Okay, yes, Jules spends plenty of time missing her dead parents and sometimes it tries a little too hard to be “deep” about it by making readers dwell on short sentences with their own paragraphs. However, these parts don’t last long. And it also has an end that wraps things up nicely, which I like. One might think that it would be hard to blend components of a ghost story, a psychological thriller, mystery, and horror all into one, but Sager blends them seamlessly. And is it any of those things, really? Readers will have to figure it out.
Twisted, disturbing, and suspenseful, this isn’t a novel I’ll forget about anytime soon. I may read more by Sager–that is, once I’ve read some lighter books to offset the shock and scare factors a little bit. Really well done; though be warned as I’ve said above: there is disturbing stuff here. My five-star picks aren’t a lot of other people’s, I’ve noticed, but I wouldn’t rate it as such if I didn’t feel like it was top-tier.
Book Club Questions (spoilers!)
- There is a lot riding on money and wealth in this book. The Bartholomew was created because the family thought they were better than everyone. The staff preys on poorer people, like Ingrid and Jules. Why and how does money corrupt people? What about people that are charitable but unkind or even evil, such as Margaret Milton? Should they be let off the hook? Do you think that the rich always work harder? What are the pros and cons of being wealthy?
- Readers never hear what happened to Jane, as don’t many families who see a loved one disappear. Invent an ending for her. Was it possible that she could have been a Bartholomew victim?
- Have you done anything out of the ordinary to get out of debt? What was it?
- The day of this post is Halloween. There are lots of elements in this book that might qualify it as a spooky Halloween tale. What are they?