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Lock Every Door


Lock Every Door

What grabbed me instantly about LOCK EVERY DOOR is the dedication that simply read: “To Ira Levin.” After checking out the book’s description, I immediately thought of another novel that is seared into my memory. My hunch was quickly rewarded when author Riley Sager described the high-rise New York City apartment building known as the Bartholomew with the following: “…the Bartholomew is a mere wisp of a thing --- a sliver of stone rising thirteen stories over Central Park West.”

If you are a fan of the late Ira Levin, as I am, you will understand where I am going with this. In 1991, Levin released a psychological thriller, SLIVER, which was made into a laughably forgettable film starring Sharon Stone. Knowing that this was the impetus for LOCK EVERY DOOR filled me with anticipation and high expectations. I am pleased to say that Sager has delivered on all counts.

The majority of the action takes place over one week, but for young Jules Larsen, it is a week she will never forget. Jules has no job, no family and (up until very recently) no boyfriend after she walked in on him bedding another woman in the apartment they shared. That's what happens when you come home early on the day you lose your job. She cannot be more down on her luck; all she has to her name is a few hundred dollars in her bank account and an old photo of her with her now-deceased parents.

"Riley Sager takes readers on a roller coaster ride where you will have just enough time to catch your breath before the next big twist hits you."

We catch a glimpse of Jules at the end of that week, sitting on a hospital bed not long after being struck by a car in front of the building where she now lives: the Bartholomew. She tells the doctor who is questioning her that she was fleeing the Bartholomew at the moment she was injured and begs not to be sent back there. We then get to retrace the moments in Jules’ life that took her from being a young woman desperate for money and shelter to being hospitalized in this manner.

Sager takes us back to the interview Jules had with the stylish Leslie Evelyn, who talks about the Bartholomew's history while showing her one of the very impressive apartments within it. It turns out that Jules meets all of their qualifications and has passed muster with Leslie. This apartment will be the same one she will occupy for the next three months. The salary for apartment-sitting for that length of time is a cool $12,000. Due to her current dire financial situation, this is an offer she cannot refuse. Plus, it will give her some time to job hunt while being centrally located in NYC.

However, there are some pretty stern rules Jules must abide by while accepting this job. If she cannot comply, she risks forfeiting the entire $12,000. She is not to disturb any of the other Bartholomew residents. There are no visitors allowed under any circumstances, and Jules must be in her apartment --- alone --- every night. Following these and a few more housekeeping rules is all it takes for her to receive her promised salary. At this point, Jules is so desperate that she is not seeing the full picture. As the week goes on, though, cracks in the near-perfect facade that is the Bartholomew building and its tenants will begin to appear, and she is bright enough to start noticing.

Jules befriends another tenant, a young single woman named Ingrid. At one point they make plans to meet up in Central Park and attend an event together. Unfortunately, Ingrid does not show up as promised nor does she respond to any of Jules' texts or phone messages. Jules starts questioning everyone from the doorman to other tenants to find out if they had seen or heard from Ingrid. Leslie learns of Jules' concern and assures her that Ingrid just up and moved out in the middle of the night without a word to anyone. Of course, Jules is skeptical and starts her own investigation.

Jules’ best friend, Chloe, sends an email to her with an attached story that speaks of the sordid history of the Bartholomew. The article recounts unexplained deaths, missing tenants, and the original owner, Mr. Bartholomew, leaping to his death from the top of his own building. Jules quickly realizes that the too-good-to-be-true job she signed on for is just that, but it still doesn’t explain what happened to Ingrid or the young woman who inhabited her apartment previously who also went missing.

Jules doesn't know how to explain what is happening to the tenants, mostly the apartment-sitters, of the Bartholomew. Is the answer a supernatural one, like an actual haunting or evil presence, or are these events more man-made in their origin? Things really begin spinning out of control when Jules sees a flyer on a lamppost just a few blocks from her apartment containing the details of Erica Mitchell, the prior resident of her apartment who is now listed as missing. She calls the number on the flyer and is led back to another apartment-sitter named Dylan. She meets with Dylan, along with the young doctor, Nick, who she befriended in her short time at the Bartholomew.

Just when it looks like they may be on the verge of some real answers, Dylan disappears.  Leslie gives the same story she told when questioned about Ingrid --- he just moved out for personal reasons.

Riley Sager takes readers on a roller coaster ride where you will have just enough time to catch your breath before the next big twist hits you. At times, it feels like LOCK EVERY DOOR is heading more in the direction of another Ira Levin classic, ROSEMARY'S BABY, which ironically was based in the infamous Dakota building, whose most famous resident, John Lennon, was killed right in front of it. This novel continues Sager's streak of providing a fresh and original voice to the world of psychological thrillers, and I am sure it will follow his previous releases right up towards the top of this summer's bestseller lists.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 3, 2019

Lock Every Door
by Riley Sager