By Linwood Barclay
Linwood Barclay, an American-born Canadian author and humorist, is the author of two dozen books, including the Zack Walker trilogy and the Promise Falls trilogy. Parting Shot is marketed as book four in the latter series, though it also works as a stand-alone thriller.
THE STORY: Last seen in The Twenty-Three (2016), the third in the Promise Falls trilogy, relaxed Private Eye Cal Weaver is hired to protect Jeremy Pilford, 18, from an Internet mob. The pampered Jeremy's crime? Stealing a Porsche, killing a teenage girl while driving drunk, and then evading a charge of vehicular homicide on the grounds that he never developed a sense of morality. To protect him from angry vigilantes, Cal sends Jeremy, the "Big Baby," off" to his great-aunt on Cape Cod, but the PI soon finds himself enmeshed in a revenge plot. Meanwhile, Police Detective Barry Duckworth must investigate the disappearance of a young man tattooed with a confession. Secrets in both cases, and in both detectives' lives, abound.
Doubleday Canada. 464 pages. $27. ISBN: 978-0385690232
Globe and Mail (Canada) ****
"Fans know to expect a twist from Linwood Barclay and they get more than one here. Those of us hooked on [the Promise Falls trilogy] can hope that trilogy or no, Cal and the town make another appearance at some point." MARGARET CANNON
Publishers Weekly ****
"Barclay adroitly blends themes of internet vitriol and simmering societal rage with a taut plot full of sly hints, unexpected twists, and red herrings. With access to both investigations, readers can make some connections before the characters do, but Barclay has surprises in store for readers and his leads alike."
Wall Street Journal ****
"The two characters' stories alternate chapters to good effect, doubling this twist-filled book's suspense.... Once the investigators' interests intersect, fate's hourglass is nearing empty." TOM NOLAN
NY Times Book Review ****
"Barclay introduces some creative variations on his theme, including a theatrical stunt that involves capturing a suspected offender and tattooing a confession on his back.... But what stays with you is Jeremy, hounded by strangers competing to report sightings of him as if he were an insentient avatar in some violent video game." MARILYN STASIO
Crime Fiction Lover ***
"Linwood Barclay seems as if he walked into the world with an uncanny ability to construct perfectly tense plots, which goes some way to making up for the deficiencies in Parting Shot.... Perhaps the biggest issue I have with Parting Shot is the way in which so many characters seem to think murder is a satisfactory way to deal with any petty disagreement."
Set in the upstate New York town of Promise Falls, Parting Shot follows two investigations told in alternating chapters. With a lean, taut plot filled with unexpected (and creative) red herrings, the novel slowly comes together as the cases start to connect. "Real crimes, unspeakably nasty ones, including murder, figure in this well-built novel," writes the New York Times Book Review critic, though the spoiled Jeremy, who claims to have never learned right from wrong, holds down the center. Only the Crime Fiction Lover reviewer felt that try as hard as he might to capture the zeitgeist--including the current presidency and the danger of Internet vigilantes--Barclay missed the mark, and clunky dialogue and a predictable denouement marred reading. Still, fans of the Promise Falls trilogy won't want to miss this one.