Friday, January 31, 2014

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
Released: September 2008

Linwood Barclay is my new favorite suspense novelist, so I couldn't help but read another title from his backlist and post the review for it before I moved on to my next Barclay (which will be happening today, hooray!).

Too Close to Home is the spookiest, most disturbing Barclay novel I've read so far. In the prologue, teenager Derek Cutter is at his best friend Adam Langley's house saying goodbye before Adam's family goes on a week-long vacation. Since Derek lives right next door to Adam, he has plans to hide in Adam's basement until the family leaves so he can disarm the house's alarm system and use Adam's house as a sort of sex-getaway for the week.

Later that evening after Derek comes out of hiding and is enjoying the amenities in the Langley home, he hears the family come home unexpectedly. In a panic, Derek returns to his hiding spot in the basement to figure out how he's going to escape unnoticed. But minutes later, before he has the chance to leave, he hears intruders enter the home and kill Adam and Adam's two parents. In a state of shock, Derek manages to run home unscathed and doesn't tell anyone what happens.

After the prologue, the novel switches to the first-person view of Derek's father, Jim Cutter - an artist-turned-chauffer-turned-lawn-service owner. After Jim learns that the Langley family has been killed, his son Derek reveals information that indicates that perhaps the killers may have chosen the wrong house that night. It's only then that Jim learns his family may not be staying alive for much longer.

The prologue of Too Close to Home is the most haunting and chilling segment of the novel, and does a great job of setting a macabre and scary tone. It's a freaky notion when neighbors you're close with are suddenly and unexpectedly murdered in their home.

Just as with the other novels I've read by Barclay, Too Close to Home finds an amateur sleuth in the form of everyday-man Jim Cutter. In fact, this could be why I'm drawn to Barclay's novels. There have been dozens of times where my wild imagination takes off and thinks about what I would do if I were in a dangerous situation. I think featuring an everyday-man as protagonists in these thriller novels really gets me going.

But unlike Barclay's other protagonists, Jim is far tougher and way more bad-ass in general, especially given that his character has background with working as the mayor's driver and has no problems throwing a few deserved punches here and there.

Too Close to Home contains a number of red herrings - there is so much going on in this book that you'll have quite the time trying to piece it together. The end result is satisfying, and well-worth the time spent getting there. It's an amazing novel, and definitely going on my list of best suspense thrillers.

What do you think about novels by Linwood Barclay? Who are your favorite thriller novelists? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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