Monday, September 26, 2016

Review of "No Safe House" by Linwood Barclay

The Archer family - dad Terry, mom Cynthia, and teen daughter Grace - experienced serious personal trauma so it's not a surprise that Cynthia is over-protective of her daughter. In the spirit of rebellion Grace dates a juvenile delinquent and ends up breaking into a house to 'borrow' a sports car for a joy ride. Coincidentally someone else has also broken into the house. Before long a gun goes off and things go seriously belly up.

In an attempt to protect Grace from the consequences of her actions the Archers need help from an old acquaintance - known criminal Vince - who has been using 'respectable houses' to hide loot acquired in his criminal enterprises. At the same time another set of killers has become interested in these houses - apparently looking for a specific mysterious object. This all leads to a complicated plot in which Vince needs to quickly recover all the loot from the safe houses before the police or the rival killers get to it. Terry becomes unwillingly caught up in these plans, as does Grace.

Meanwhile Cynthia, to avoid constant arguments with rebellious Grace, is taking a break from the family. She's temporarily moved into an apartment building and become acquainted with a down-on-his-luck techie who now walks dogs, and a landlord who still pines for a long lost love.

There's a somewhat complicated relationship between the characters that overshadows their interactions: Vince was seriously injured several years before when he was helping the Archers, which he still resents; Grace is friendly with Vince's somewhat shady stepdaughter Jane - who was Terry's former student; Grace's boyfriend is the son of a thug in Vince's gang, and so on.

The story is a somewhat suspenseful page-turner but most of the characters are not likable and the plot strains credulity. Just a so-so thriller.

Rating: 3 stars

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