Thursday, February 23, 2023

Device Free Weekend

Device Free Weekend by Sean Doolittle
2/28/23; 288 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Device Free Weekend by Sean Doolittle is a highly recommended new take on a locked room thriller.

Seven friends who met three decades earlier in college are offered a Labor day get away on a private island near Puget Sound owned by one of them. Ryan Cloverhill, incredibly wealthy founder and CEO of a popular social media platform, has invited Stephen, Emma, Perry, Will, Beau, and Lainie for this special reunion, all expenses paid. The one stipulation is that they must surrender all their devices upon arrival. The first day is an enjoyable time of reminiscing and reconnecting. The second day is perplexing. Ryan is gone, as are their devices. Where their phones were left is a touchscreen tablet with its on-screen challenge: Unlock Me! The six friends must figure out what how to open it and Ryan wants them to do.

Locked room thrillers are always entertaining and that holds true for Device Free Weekend, once you set disbelief aside and go with the premise set forth. What Ryan planned is thwarted almost from the start, when two of the friends get locked out of the house and all six are needed fro any decision to be made. The decision Ryan wants his old friends to make has no good outcome. Stephan is the only fully realized character, but enough traits and information is presented on the others that they do present themselves as individuals. Basically, they have very different traits and you can tell them all apart.

The pages fly by as the action keeps the pace of the plot moving along. Even in the slower-paced sections, readers will know that the pace is going to pick up again soon. A case could be made that the motive for Ryan's actions could have been better developed, but as the narrative moves forward enough information is uncovered to handle this qualm. I enjoyed Device Free Weekend. It's not a perfect novel, but it is engaging and held my attention throughout.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

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