Along for the ride
Barclay delivers thrills for both adults and young readers, Pat St. Germain writes.
A Noise Downstairs
Linwood Barclay Doubleday Canada
Eight months after small-town college English professor Paul Davis happened on a murderer preparing to dispose of a pair of bodies — and barely escaped with his life — he’s still recovering from a nasty head injury and dealing with PTSD. With help from his therapist, Anna, and newly attentive wife Charlotte, he puts a plan in motion to speed up the healing process by confronting his fears, and the killer, head on.
But when Charlotte gives him a vintage typewriter that seems to have a life of its own, Paul’s mental state takes a turn for the worse, slipping into dangerously delusional territory.
Some tidy foreshadowing right off the top suggests Paul could be a victim of gaslighting, but former Toronto Star columnist Barclay (No Time for Goodbye) cranks up the suspense, putting a tight cast of characters and promising plot twists into play. A rogue patient who threatens Anna and her clients, peripheral victims of that double-murder and a hint of romance complicate matters. And just when you think you see the denouement coming down Main Street, the thriller takes an unexpected twist — and then another, delivering an unlikely saviour and a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.
Linwood Barclay Puffin Canada
With a new adult thriller on the launch pad, Barclay’s suspense series for kids makes a perfect pairing for family summer reading.
A boy and his bionic spy dog are forced to go on the run from nefarious secret agents in these fetching novels for kids ages 9-12. Chase introduces specially engineered dog Chipper, who’s targeted for termination when
his playful nature distracts him from his duties at a sinister government laboratory. After a narrow escape, Chipper makes his way to a lakeside fishing resort in search of 12-year-old Jeff, whose parents worked at the lab before they were lost in a plane crash. Without his loving parents, Jeff and his non-bionic dog Pepper are living with and working for his cold Aunt Flo when Chipper and his pursuers arrive on the scene and pull him into a dangerous game of cat and mouse (or dog and squirrel).
Thanks to help from a plucky 13-year-old computer whiz named Emily and mysterious retiree Harry Green, the endangered duo beat a hasty retreat — right into a cliffhanger finish that leads into Escape.
On the run with the suspiciously helpful Harry Green, it seems certain that Chipper and Jeff will fall victim to the lab’s ultra-evil director. When she sics a second bionic dog and a genetically altered boy on the runaways, the hunters hatch a plot that puts Pepper and Emily in their crosshairs. But where there’s life — and love — there’s hope.