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‘No Safe House’ Is Slow to Deliver Suspense [REVIEW]

No Safe House
NAL

Some reader’s consider Linwood Barclay to be the “master of suspense.” Others feel Barclay can tell you a wicked-good story. However, after reading Barclay’s latest novel, No Safe House, I feel none of these sentiments.

Although No Safe House had some surprising plot twists, I was never really interested in the family dynamics of the Archer family. Yes, I understood a very difficult and tramatic life event happened when Cynthia’s family disappeared one night in No Time For Goodbye, yet I couldn’t being myself to care what happened to the Archers in this novel.

In fact, Terry, Cynthia’s wishy-washy husband and their rebellious, selfish daughter, Grace, didn’t seem truly dimensional to me but rather flat. The reader first meets Grace when she “ignores curfew.” She doesn’t “call when she gets where she is going.” Don’t most teenagers act this way when they are trying to via for independence?

Next we are introduced to Cynthia’s husband,Terry, who seems to always be the peacemaker in the family. “I’d tell Cynthia privately that I understood her motives, that I didn’t want anything bad to happen to Grace, either, but that if our daughter was never allowed any freedom, she’d never learn to cope in the world on her own.”

Another reason I didn’t like this novel is the fact that too many pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit. For instance, “Why did Cynthia really leave her family?” Cynthia alludes to other possible reasons in addition to having a difficult time dealing with the safety of her daughter but the reader as well as Cynthia’s family are kept in the dark.

Later, after drinking a few glasses of wine with her neighbor, Nathaniel, Cynthia says, “This was a mistake. I abandoned my family because I thought I was sick, but they’re the only thing that can make me better.” How did she come to this conclusion? The reader isn’t privy to the motives behind Cynthia’s decision. The reader now must faithfully accept that Cynthia is emotionally or physically capable of helping to unite her family again. I didn’t buy into this belief.

Linwood Barclay
Bill Taylor

Also, why did Nathaniel’s wife and Cynthia’s landlord, Barney Crof’s fiancee, have the same name? Coincidence or foreshadowing? I don’t know for the reader isn’t given this information either. How can a seasoned detective like Wedmore (who was able to track down a BMW’s license plate number as it left a crime scene using a traffic camera and who could discern tire markings that were several weeks old on the grass leading up to the front door of the Archer house at night), easily pick up and hand over the spare keys of that very same BMW without asking any questions? I can suspend disbelief  in a lot of circumstances, but even I find this highly unlikely.

At the end of the day, this book just lacks too much verisimilitude to be believed. I recommend that you are looking for a great read to keep you equally engaged and entertained, pass up Linwood Barclay‘s No Safe House and pick up another suspense novel to lose yourself in for a few hours.

WATCH WBSM'S INTERVIEW WITH LINWOOD BARCLAY

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