Take Your Breath Away, already a bestseller in Ireland and the UK, is released in the United States and Canada on May 17th! Every time I write a new book, my hope is it will be the best one I’ve ever done. Maybe, just maybe, this time I’ve managed that. The reviews would seem to suggest as much.
David Koepp, the screenwriter of the first two Jurassic Park movies and the bestselling author of Cold Storage and the upcoming Aurora, had this to say:
“Linwood Barclay once again proves
himself a master of pace, structure, and suspense. Take Your Breath Away had me guessing and turning pages all night, and I still didn’t figure it out till the end. Gripping, propulsive, and surprising – he wasn’t kidding, I’m breathless.”
The London Sunday Times said this: “Perhaps only John Grisham is his equal in creating show-stealing supporting characters.”
From Publishers Weekly: “Barclay shifts among multiple viewpoints to keep the tension high, including the original witness statements taken by Hardy. Everyone is a plausible suspect, and the disparate plot pieces eventually fit together with the precision of a Chinese puzzle box. Barclay reliably entertains.”
And this, from Booklist: “This new novel from the always-dependable Barclay ... is an especially good read. The author keeps us guessing right up until the end ... Motives are hinted at and secrets gradually revealed, leading to an ending that will knock your socks off.”
So, here’s a little refresher on what the book is actually about:
After being missing for six years, Brie is back. Or so it appears. And she’s acting like she hasn’t been gone a day.
Back in 2016, while her husband, Andy, was away on a fishing weekend with his best friend, Brie vanished. The police investigation centered on Andy. Either he hired someone to kill her, or he slipped away from the fishing
camp in the night, murdered her himself, and returned by daybreak.
The police could never build a strong case against Andy, and he’s tried to move on with his life. He sold the house where he and Brie lived, which was later torn down, a new house built on the site. He’s got his life back together, fallen in love with Jayne, and she’s moved in with him, bringing her troubled brother Tyler along with her.
But on this spring Saturday, Andy’s peaceful world is about to blow up. A woman who bears a striking resemblance to Brie, driving a car loaded with groceries, has shown up at his old address, screaming, “Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?”
that her house is no longer there.
The woman gets back in her car and speeds off. Could it be Brie? And if it is her, where has she been for six years? Why has she suddenly reappeared, having made a mundane trip to the grocery store, as if nothing ever happened? If it’s her, then the cloud of suspicion that’s been hanging over Andy is gone, which is good news, but what does he do now? He’s in a new relationship, had made a new life for himself.
If it’s not Brie, then what the hell is going on? Is this some elaborate scheme by the police to unsettle Andy, whom they still think is behind her disappearance? Or it something even more diabolical going on?
Andy needs to find out. His future, and that
of those closest to him, depends on it. The trick will be whether he can live long enough to get those answers.
I first had the idea for this book several years ago. What if a woman arrived home and her house was not there? What if a different house was standing in its place? I loved that opening, but I couldn’t figure out why it happened, what set of circumstances had led to this point. But finally I had a way to explain it, and I sat down to the computer and banged it out.
Okay, here’s where things get even more interesting. Only a couple of weeks after the North American release of Take Your Breath Away, I have another book coming out.
It’s Look Both Ways, my long-awaited thriller about autonomous cars running amok. This story is a little different from my others. It’s more like a Michael Crichton novel. Think Jurassic Park, but instead of dinosaurs, it’s self-driving cars. Or even more simply: You’re on an island with a thousand Christines. Good luck.
Given that this book is kind of special, we’re bringing it to readers in different ways at different times in different places. (And before you ask why, publishers in various regions like to do things their own way. I could go into details, but you probably have other things you’d like to do today.)
Let me try to spell it out here:
-- In early June, the novel will be released as an ebook in the United States and the UK and Ireland.
-- On October 25th, an ebook version, and a paperback print edition, will be released in Canada. A paperback version will also come out at this time in the United States.
-- On November 10th, a hardcover edition of Look Both Ways will be
released in the UK. This is the only region that’s producing a hardcover.
(And a future newsletter will confirm this, but I believe a print edition of Look Both Ways will be available in Australia in August.)
Regardless of when it comes out, or in what format, I had a blast writing this book. I’ve been nuts about cars since I was a little kid, when I would watch my father, a commercial artist, sitting at his drawing board, wielding his airbrush to create stunning images of automobiles that would later show up in ads in Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and those brochures you’d pick up at your local car dealership.
The second half of the final season of "Ozark" was fantastic. If there’s a show that makes me more anxious while watching it, I can’t think what it is. I just keep hearing Wendy Byrde saying, “We’re so close. We’re so close.” Yeah, well, maybe not.
And "Bosch" has returned, but as "Bosch: Legacy." Michael Connelly’s character is off the force and a free agent, but the stories are just as compelling. And Maddie’s joined the LAPD! One of the best cop shows in the history of television.
Other treats have included "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," the latest installments of "Better Call Saul," and when we find the news incredibly depressing, which is,
like, every day, we watch an old black-and-white episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." Gotta love Opie. (And by the way, Ron Howard’s book The Boys, written along with his brother Clint, is a fascinating read about their time growing up in Hollywood.)
We watched a fantastic documentary that came out a few years ago called California Typewriter. If you get a bit wistful for the days of a manual Smith Corona, this movie is for you.
HBO’s "Somebody Somewhere," starting Bridget Everett, is one of the quirkiest shows I’ve seen this year. Loved it. And "The Flight Attendant"? Season one was great fun. Season two is kind of a mess. It’s a plane without a pilot. Don’t think we’re going to stick with it.
What I’m Reading
I had a chance to read an advance copy of David Koepp’s new thriller, Aurora, coming in June. It’s about the chaos inflicted on the world’s infrastructure by a massive solar flare, and the thrills are rooted in some very troubling scientific fact. But ultimately, it’s a people story, as we follow several characters through such a challenging time. I highly recommend it.
I was also very fortunate to receive an advance copy of James Lee Burke’s latest novel, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood. I have been reading JLB for 30 years now, and he is one of the writers I most admire. This latest comes from a very personal place and is very moving. I’m excited to report that I will be interviewing the author on June 2nd for an online event conducted
under the auspices of Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. (See the link under Events.)
And I have discovered a new author, Emily St. John Mandel. I had watched, and loved, the HBO series, "Station Eleven," based on her novel of the same name, so I picked up one of her earlier novels, The Singer’s Gun. It’s terrific. Kind of a thriller, but really a study of the lies we tell each other to get through life. It’s very good, and now I want to read everything she’s done, including her latest, Sea of Tranquility.
Movie & TV News
I’ll say what I said in my last newsletter: Some earlier projects are still percolating, and there may be some new announcements in the near future. Stay tuned.
There are plenty. But most of them are still online.
Here’s a quick rundown:
May 16th: A virtual launch for Take Your Breath Away with the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale. Details here.
May 17th: Prince Edward County Library. I’ll be interviewed by my friend and fellow crime writer Vicki Delany. Details
May 18th: Ottawa Writers Festival. I’ll be in conversation with friend and author Shari Lapena. Details here.
May 19th: Saskatchewan Festival of Words. I’ll be chatting with author Anthony Bidulka. Details here.
May 19th: Burlington Public Library. In conversation with crime writer Melodie Campbell. Details here.
May 27th: Belleville Mayor’s Week of the Arts. This is an IN-PERSON event at 1 p.m. Details here.
June 2nd: Vroman’s Bookstore. In conversation with James Lee Burke. Details here.
The Motive Festival
There is a brand new literary festival in Toronto devoted to crime fiction. It’s called Motive, and will be held in early June. I’m interviewing Mark Billingham, in person, and Michael Robotham, online. And I will be doing a solo engagement there on June 5th. This will be my only Toronto area event that’s in person. So if you want a book signed, this is the place to be.