Lock Every Door
Riley Sager is known for writing thrillers with hints of horror thrown in for good measure. Horror isn’t at all my thing, but I decided to pick up a copy of Lock Every Door, Mr. Sager’s latest novel, just to see what all the fuss was about – and now, I know. The novel is a quick read, one I’m glad I chose to read in spite of its few flaws.
The fact that Jules Larson has had a hard life is no secret. Her sister disappeared under suspicious circumstances eight years before the story opens, and both of Jules’ parents committed suicide not long afterwards. Jules did her best to move on from her tragic past, and, in most ways, she succeeds, until she loses her job and her long-term boyfriend on the very same day.
The story begins with a creepy chapter in which an unknown woman is waking up after being struck by a car. She’s in a hospital, and remembers very little of the event that brought her there. We soon learn that this is Jules, and the story jumps back to six days before, when Jules enters the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most luxurious apartment buildings, for the first time. She is hoping to be hired as an apartment sitter, though the grandiosity of the building makes her think she’s probably not well-suited to the position. Still, she knows she has to go through with the interview. She’s in desperate need of money, something that obviously isn’t in short supply at the Bartholomew. After chatting briefly with her interviewer, Jules is shocked to be offered the job right on the spot, provided she agrees to follow some very odd but supposedly necessary rules. She must never bother the other residents, all of whom are extremely rich, famous, or both. She is not allowed to have visitors while she’s staying there, and she must not spend even one night away from the building. Jules is understandably puzzled by these stipulations, but the pay is far better than she expected, and so she agrees.
She moves into the Bartholomew the very next day, and meets Ingrid, a fellow apartment sitter, not long after. Ingrid seems to possess quite a bit of knowledge about certain mysterious events in the building’s history, things Jules is more than happy to brush off as silly ghost stories. She doesn’t care what happened in the past, not when she’s being paid $12,000 for three months of apartment sitting. But when Ingrid disappears the very next day, Jules finds herself beginning to wonder if there might have been some truth in her stories after all.
My main problem with the story has to do with Jules herself. She’s an incredibly nosy person, even though she swears up and down that nothing is more important to her than minding her own business. She’s constantly butting into other people’s affairs, even though she’s repeatedly told not to do this. To make matters worse, she’s not particularly good at being subtle, so her motives are super obvious.
I was also puzzled by Jules’ dedication to finding Ingrid, someone she barely knew. True, Ingrid does remind Jules a bit of her missing sister, but I found that motivation to be a bit flimsy, considering the massive amounts of danger Jules subjects herself to over the course of the novel. I just found it difficult to believe she’d go so far to learn the truth about someone she had only known for one day.
In spite of that, I didn’t dislike Lock Every Door; I actually enjoyed it quite a bit once I got past my frustration with the heroine. Mr. Sager is a gifted writer with a definite flare for the spooky. He has crafted a twisty piece of fiction with a few nods to the horror genre. I can’t tell you more about those particular plot points, but fans of the genre are sure to spot them as they read.
Speaking of twisty things, the novel’s end was something I absolutely did not see coming. We learn bits and pieces of the truth throughout the book, but Mr. Sager put those bits and pieces together into a masterful twist that turned out to be my favorite thing about Lock Every Door. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the story as I was tempted to do when Jules began to get on my nerves, because the ending was totally worth it.