A Tap At The Window - Linwood Barclay

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Synopsis: When Cal Weaver stops at a red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenage girl trying to hitch a ride - even when she starts tapping on his window. But as soon as he realises she's one of his son's classmates, he knows he can't really leave her, alone, on the street. But nothing prepares him for the consequences of trying to help her out. The next morning he's gone from Good Samaritan to Murder Suspect, and with one girl dead and another missing, he's suddenly at the centre of a deadly puzzle that reaches right to the heart of the town - from its bullying police force to its strangely furtive mayor - and finally to one family's shocking secret.


Review: Having read one of Barclay's novels before (Too Close To Home), and having enjoyed it, I had relatively high hopes for this one. I was aware that a lot of people found the ending to be a let-down, but honestly I thought this novel was pretty solid the whole way through. I find with mysteries and thrillers that there's always an sense of dissonance between all the possibilites that run around my head, and what actually turns out to be the case, which could potentially turn into disappointment. So allowing for that and expecting it, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

The beginning was fantastic, it was extremely mysterious and was interesting enough to make me read the whole rest of the novel, even if it hadn't been consistently good throughout. While not flawless (the main character had literally nothing to do with his time but drive around questioning people, and occasionally sleep), it's quite a long novel and the author does away with any frills or excess. Some of the characters are pretty interesting, and there's a wonderful atmosphere pervading the story of a seemingly idyllic little town with a rough, dark underbelly - not just because of the questionable conduct of the police, but also because all of the townsfolk seem to have dark secrets.

The complexity of the novel is so grand that I really admire how the author tied it all up into one chance event - picking up a girl one rainy night - and then unravelled it to reveal a secret of immense proportions. It definitely did not go anywhere I was expecting, and there was one twist more than was really necessary towards the end, but for the most part, this is a fast-paced and fun mystery story. It's not the most polished novel in the world, but its definitely worth picking up for the entertainment value.

Rating: 4/5

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