Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Escape Room

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
St. Martin's Press: 7/30/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781250219657

The Escape Room is a highly recommended debut thriller by Megan Goldin.

Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are high rolling investment bankers from the Wall Street firm Stanhope and Sons. The four are called to a meeting by the human resources department that ends up being an escape room team building challenge. The ambitious four become increasingly agitated and hostile as they look for puzzles to solve while locked in an elevator with no lights. It seems that this is no ordinary escape room challenge and might be a game of survival.

Alternating chapters follow the present and the past. Present day chapters are set in the elevator where clues seem to point to two deceased employees, Sara and Lucy. Chapters set in the past are from the point-of-view of Sara Hall. Sara was a recent MBA graduate who Vincent hired to work on his team with the other three leading team members and Lucy, a brilliant mathematician on the spectrum who kept to herself. The four, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam, are obviously the ones in charge and they make sure Sara works long hours and does all the tedious tasks the others avoid. Sara's chapters with the backstory explain what happened to her and Lucy, and how the four ended up in the elevator.

This is an entertaining debut thriller that starts out strong and basically holds your attention throughout. The elevator scenes do slow down and become a bit tedious while alternating chapters following Sara become much more compelling and interesting. This lag happens as the past catches up to the present day chapters. Sara and Lucy are both are both protagonists you will support and have empathy for, while the four bankers are clearly antagonists from the start. You will have to suspend disbelief with the plot, but the sheer entertainment value will make that easy.

Once you get the the end of the novel, the narrative is a long explanation of how and why the four ended up in the elevator. The long game of getting them there requires setting skepticism aside and just going with the action. Even while I knew the plot was stretching credibility, I kept reading for the entertainment value.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

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