In this novel we have two brothers, Thomas and Ray. Their father has just died in a tractor accident. Ray lives in Burlington, Vt. and has come to Paradise Falls to sort things out after his father’s death and to decide how to help his brother, Thomas. Thomas is schizophrenic and obsessed with maps. While Thomas is ‘studying’ cities on the computer program Whirl360 (think Google Earth) he believes he sees a murder in progress at the time the photograph was taken. He becomes fixated on finding out what was really happening, bringing Ray and Thomas into a situation that is quite deadly.
This was the first Linwood Barclay novel I have read and I had no idea what to expect. What a pleasant surprise to find the book far more than satisfying. I was completely engrossed in it and when I had to put it down to go to a meeting, I found myself telling everyone about the ‘exciting book’ I was reading.
Each of the characters, both major and minor, were easily visualized from the lawyer trying to get family details (too friendly, too helpful), to the know-it-all neighbor (he knows exactly what Thomas’ father should have done with a son like Thomas), to the brothers, friends, villains and shifty politicians.
I had no trouble following the time shifts. There is a prologue; then the heading before Chapter One says, “Two weeks earlier” and Chapter six begins, “Nine months earlier”. So you have a time-frame in which to follow each of the story lines, knowing all along that they are going to meet in a horrible way.
The suspense was very much Hitchcock-ian. It began slowly, life is normal, but as people begin to make bad decisions you know things are going to go terribly awry and instead of having a ‘page-turner’ you have a ‘page-stopper’. (When you don’t want to turn the page because you know that something bad is going to happen and you don’t want to know.) There were twists, false leads and an “oh-my-gosh” ending.
The book is a real thriller and I am going to read it again.