In July, one of my Book of the Month selections was Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I decided to read it last in my trio of thrillers related to living in another’s home as part of your job duties, following The Au Pair by Emma Rous and Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key. Like those former two, I loved reading Lock Every Door, and even though they all had loosely similar setups, I love how they all went in completely different directions.
In the case of Lock Every Door, our lead character, Jules Larsen starts off they story by getting a job as an apartment sitter in New York City. (No children and babysitting this time, unlike in the other two books I read right before this.) Jules is recently jobless, homeless, and single, and with her mountain of debt and no family to turn to, she was desperate. This well-paying job seemed too good to be true, and we all know how that saying ends.
To be frank, I really identified with Jules. I, too, come from a low-income background and carry the weight of crushing student loan debt. Especially in the early chapters of the books, I love her commentary on being poor and what poverty looks like; I love how she articulates how unfair it is and how it effects people’s lives… and charges interest. It’s not a theme I expected to find in a psychological thriller, but I’m so glad Riley Sager included this point. It makes Jules’s actions more understandable, and, from a standpoint of society and politics, I think it’s valuable for readers to see this perspective illustrated.
Lock Every Door builds up slowly at first. Jules’s new job apartment sitting a top-floor home in the infamous Bartholomew in Manhattan seems easy enough, though there are a lot of odd and inconvenient rules, and she’s clearly being paid under the table. But it doesn’t seem totally dangerous or life-threatening… right?
Most of the people who live there are wealthy and have some celebrity status, but Jules does meet a couple of other apartment sitters. First is Ingrid, a girl who lives one floor down from Jules. Ingrid confides that she thinks the Bartholomew is sketchy, but before she has a chance to really explain, that night, Ingrid disappears from her apartment.
From here, the novel’s pace starts to quicken. Jules is sure something bad happened to her new friend, but with Ingrid having no family or friends to speak of – and with police being entirely unhelpful – it’s up to Jules to channel her inner sleuth and figure it out herself. She gets help from the other apartment sitter, Dylan, and a casual acquaintance of Ingrid’s, Zeke. Jules also interviews the Bartholomew’s various tenants and staff, including handsome doctor Nick, crotchety old novelist Greta, doorman Charlie, and manager Leslie. Some are more helpful than others.
Clues and events start to build up, leading Jules down a rabbit hole that grows stranger and stranger. What’s up with the Bartholomew’s horrific past of death and tragedy? Why was there a fire? Should Jules be worried about the weapon that was left behind?
Meanwhile, as Jules races to uncover Ingrid’s fate, we get brief looks into what’s going down in the present time, 5 days after Jules took up residency in the Bartholomew. She’s being tended to by doctors after an escape, but there’s yet more to be uncovered.
The final 1/3 of Lock Every Door is truly shocking, and not even close to anything I predicted as I read through it. But as much as I want to talk about it, I won’t spoil it for you. Just know that you’re in for an intense surprise.
Lock Every Door is the first book I’ve read by Riley Sager, but after the mind-blowing events of this novel, I will have to go back and read his first two as soon as possible. Both Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied were also featured on Book of the Month, and I’ll plan to read both before his next book comes out in 2020. It might be too soon to say, since I’ve only read the one book so far, but Riley Sager might prove to be one of my favorite new thriller writers. In short: Read Lock Every Door, because you won’t be disappointed.