Today I’m delighted to revisit my feature with Linwood Barclay which was first posted in August 2018. When I was lucky enough to meet Linwood I cheekily asked if he’d do my Five on Friday feature, nobody was more shocked than me when he agreed to take part in a mini version.
I doubt that Linwood needs any introduction, but for those who haven’t yet read him, he is a New York Times bestselling author of over twenty engrossing crime thrillers to his credit. His books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, sold millions of copies, and he counts Stephen King among his fans. Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV.
Linwood spent three decades in newspapers before turning full time to writing thrillers. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives near Toronto with his wife, Neetha and they have two grown children.
Over to Linwood:
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. First, he’s one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Two, it’s a magnificent piece of music. Three, it means something.
What would you find it hard to live without.
My hardcover copy of Sleeping Beauty, a Lew Archer novel by Ross Macdonald (aka Kenneth Millar), in which the author wrote, on May 1, 1976: “To Linwood, who will, I hope someday outwrite me.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get writing those books a little sooner. And yet, the way my has played out so far, I can’t see how I would have done things any differently. Sometimes things have to work out the way they work out.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I’ve never really grown up. I love toys. I have model trains in the basement and my office is filled with model Batmobiles and various ships from Gerry Anderson shows of the 1960s.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d like to have the Obamas over for dinner.
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Take Your Breath Away
It’s always the husband, isn’t it?
One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.
Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.
But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?’ And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.
Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy’s future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers…
Find You First
It’s a deadly race against time…
Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, but he can’t buy more time. Diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is forced to take a long, hard look at his past.
Somewhere out there, Miles has children who don’t know it, but they might be about to inherit the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister.
So, Miles decides to track them down. But a lethal killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.
WHEN THE DOORS CLOSE, HE’S GOT YOU…
It begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in Manhattan. Each presses the button for their floor, but the elevator climbs, non-stop, to the top where it pauses for a few seconds, before dropping.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again. And when Wednesday brings yet another catastrophe, New York, one of the most vertical cities in the world is plunged into chaos.
Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. But what do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line?
It will be a race against time for detectives Jerry Borque and Lois Delgado to find the answers before a deadly Friday night showdown.
A Noise Downstairs
Paul Davis forgets things – he gets confused, he has sudden panic attacks. But he wasn’t always like this.
TAKES YOU CLOSER…
Eight months ago, Paul found two dead bodies in the back of a co-worker’s car. He was attacked, left for dead, and has been slowly recovering ever since. His wife tries her best but fears the worst…
TO THE TRUTH…
Therapy helps during the days, but at night he hears things – impossible things – that no one else can. That nobody else believes. Either he’s losing his mind – or someone wants him to think he is.
Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean it’s not happening…
No Safe House
Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal which nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents’ seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals.
But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown.
For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it.
Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn’t fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable . . .
A Tap on the Window
On a rainy night, a man gives a teenage girl a lift home, but the girl he picks up isn’t the same one he drops off . . . Bestseller Linwood Barclay hooks the reader from page one with this suspense masterpiece
From the author of FIND YOU FIRST
When Cal Weaver stops at a red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenage girl trying to hitch a ride – even when she starts tapping on his window. But when he realises she’s one of his son’s classmates, he knows he can’t really leave her, alone, on the street.
But nothing prepares him for the consequences of trying to help her out. The next morning he’s gone from Good Samaritan to Murder Suspect, and with one girl dead and another missing, he’s suddenly at the centre of a deadly puzzle that reaches right to the heart of the town – from its bullying police force to its strangely furtive mayor – and finally to one family’s shocking secret.
Trust Your Eyes
What would you do if you witnessed a murder – but no one believed you . . .?
Map-obsessed Thomas spends his days and nights on a virtual tour of the world through his computer screen, believing he must store the details of every town and city in his head. Then one day, while surfing a street view program, he sees something that shouldn’t be there: a woman being murdered behind a window on a New York street.
When Thomas tells his brother Ray what he has witnessed, Ray humours him with a half-hearted investigation – until he realises Thomas may have stumbled onto a deadly conspiracy, which puts them both in danger . . .
Never Saw it Coming
Keisha Ceylon is a psychic. So she says. The truth is, she watches the news for stories of missing family members, gives it a few days, then tells these families she’s had a vision. She may be able to help. And by the way, she charges for this service, and likes to see the money up front.
Keisha’s latest mark is a man whose wife disappeared a week ago. She’s seen him on TV, pleading for his wife to come home, or for whoever took her to let her go. So she pays him a visit.
The trouble is, her vision just happens to be close enough to the truth that it leaves the man rattled. And it may very well leave Keisha dead . . .
A drunk-driving accident hides more than one dark secret in No. 1 bestselling gripping thriller from the author of FIND YOU FIRST
Glen Garber’s life has just spiralled out of control. His wife’s car is found at the scene of a drunk-driving accident that took three lives. Not only is she dead, but it appears she was the cause of the accident.
Suddenly Glen has to deal with a potent mixture of emotions: grief at the loss of his wife, along with anger at her reckless behaviour that leaves their young daughter motherless. If only he could convince himself that Sheila wasn’t responsible for the tragedy.
But as more and more secrets begin to surface, Glen may have to face something much, much worse . . .
Fear the Worst
The worst day of Tim Blake’s life started out with him making breakfast for his seventeen-year-old daughter Sydney. Syd was staying with him while she worked a summer job – even if he wasn’t entirely sure what her job at the Just Inn Time motel actually was – and Tim hoped this quality father-daughter time would somehow help her deal with his divorce. When she didn’t arrive home at her usual time, he thought she’d probably gone to the mall to hang with her friends. When she didn’t answer her phone he began to worry. When she didn’t come home at all, he began to panic. And when the people at the Just Inn Time said they had no Sydney Blake working at the motel and never had, he began to see his life going into freefall. If she hadn’t been working at the Just Inn Time every day, what had she been doing? Something she couldn’t – or wouldn’t – tell her own father about? To find his daughter Tim doesn’t need to simply track her down – he needs to know who she really was, and what could have made her step out of her own life without leaving a trace. Only one thing has him convinced the worst hasn’t already happened: the fact that some very scary people seem just as eager as he is to find her. The question is: who’s going to find her first?
Too Close to Home
When the Cutter family’s next-door neighbours, the Langleys, are gunned down in their house one hot August night, the Cutters’ world is turned upside down. That violent death should have come so close to them is shocking enough in suburban Promise Falls, but at least the Cutters can console themselves with the thought that lightning is unlikely to strike twice in the same place. Unless, of course, the killers went to the wrong house . . .
At first the idea seems crazy – but each of the Cutter family has a secret they’d rather keep buried. What was on that old computer teenage Derek and his friend Adam Langley had salvaged? And where is it now? What hold does a local professor and bestselling author have on Ellen Cutter? And what does Jim Cutter know about Mrs Langley that even her husband didn’t?
To find out who killed the Langleys and why, everybody’s secrets are going to have to come out. But the final secret – the secret that could save them or destroy them – is in the one place nobody would ever think of looking . . .
No Time For Goodbye
On the morning she will never forget, suburban teenager Cynthia Archer awakes with a nasty hangover and a feeling she is going to have an even nastier confrontation with her mom and dad. But when she leaves her bedroom, she discovers the house is empty, with no sign of her parents or younger brother Todd. In the blink of an eye, without any explanation, her family has simply disappeared.
Twenty-five years later Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Were her family murdered? If so, why was she spared? And if they’re alive, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Now married with a daughter of her own, Cynthia fears that her new family will be taken from her just as her first one was. And so she agrees to take part in a TV documentary revisiting the case, in the hope that somebody somewhere will remember something – or even that her father, mother or brother might finally reach out to her . . .
Then a letter arrives which makes no sense and yet chills Cynthia to the core. And soon she begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made . . .
Promise Falls Series
Never look Away
A wife’s disappearance and a childhood tragedy are linked across the years – from the No. 1 bestselling author of FIND YOU FIRST
It starts with a trip to a local amusement park. David Harwood is hoping a carefree day will help dispel his wife Jan’s recent depression that has led to frightening thoughts of suicide. Instead, a day of fun with their son Ethan turns into a nightmare.
When Jan disappears from the park, David’s worst fears seem to have come true. But when he goes to the police to report her missing, the facts start to indicate something very different. The park’s records show that only two tickets were purchased, and CCTV shows no evidence that Jan ever entered the park at all. Suddenly David’s story starts to look suspicious – and the police to wonder if Jan’s already dead, murdered by her husband.
To prove his innocence and keep his son from being taken away from him, David is going to have to dig deep into the past and come face to face with a terrible childhood tragedy – but by doing that, he could risk destroying everything precious to him . . .
Welcome to Promise Falls. The small town with a big secret.
David Harwood is asked to check up on his cousin Marla, who’s not been herself since losing her baby nearly a year ago. But when he gets there, he finds blood on the door.
Inside, Marla happily looks after a baby that isn’t hers. She claims it was delivered ‘by an angel’, but David fears the worst.
His suspicions come true when a woman’s dead body is found – with her own baby missing – making Marla the only suspect in the investigation.
But David knows no matter how troubled she is: Marla isn’t a murderer. Is someone lurking in the shadows? And how far will David go to protect his family?
Far From True
It began with Broken Promise. Now the mystery deepens in the second of the Promise Falls trilogy.
A freak accident has killed Lucy Brighton’s father. And when she goes to his house, she’s convinced that someone has broken in. She asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into it – but isn’t prepared for what he’ll find.
Cal discovers a secret ‘playroom’ in the basement, complete with video equipment, and it looks as though there’s a missing recording.
How does the stolen DVD connect to the other disturbing events that are happening in the town? As Cal investigates further, and more people start dying in mysterious circumstances, it’s clear that someone is targeting Promise Falls. But who – and how far will they go?
The day begins like any other Saturday – a shower, coffee, breakfast. But suddenly, all hell breaks loose in the town of Promise Falls. People are dying in the street – the hospital and emergency services are overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Is it mass food poisoning, a virus, or something more sinister? Has someone, rather than something, caused this?
Detective Barry Duckworth is already investigating two murders and an explosion at the town’s drive-in. He starts to wonder if these crimes and the new attacks are connected to the mysterious incidents in Promise Falls involving the number twenty-three.
But who is sending these deadly messages, and how can they be stopped?
Every crime has consequences.
Every town has secrets.
A young girl is killed by a drunk driver. Shaken by the tragedy, the local community wants justice.
It doesn’t matter that the accused is only a kid himself. When he’s given a soft sentence, the outcry reaches fever pitch.
Under siege from threats of revenge, theboy and his desperate family hire Private Investigator Cal Weaver to trace the senders. But in a town full of suspects, it could be anyone…
There is so much more to this case than meets the eye. Weaver wonders what he’s missing – and if he’ll piece the puzzle together before more blood is spilled, including his own…
Zack Walker Series
Zack Walker is a writer with an overactive imagination and two teenage children. After a murder on their street, he uproots his family from the city – insisting it’s for their own good – and heads for the security of the suburbs.
However, his peaceful new life is soon shattered when he finds a body while out walking by the creek. Zack recognizes the dead man – and knows who his killer might be.
Things go from bad to worse as Zack follows a trail of deceit that leads right to his front door. To protect his family – and so he doesn’t get framed for a crime he didn’t commit – he’s going to have to track down the killer himself.
Suddenly the suburbs are not looking nearly so safe . . .
Much to his family’s relief, stay-at-home writer Zack Walker finally gets a job outside of the house. Surely, becoming a journalist will keep his overactive imagination in check . . .
Now in full-time employment, Zack’s protective instincts must work over-time to keep his kids safe from dangers real and imagined.
But while writing his feature article, Zack stumbles into the centre of a web of murder and deceit.
What seems like a tragic accidental hit-and-run may actually be a far darker crime. And Zack will find himself in the dark about who the good guys are, what the bad guys want, and what he’s started to uncover . . .
Journalist, family man, and paranoid writer Zack Walker visits his father’s lakeside fishing camp. But the fresh air, childhood memories and peaceful contemplation are ruined when a body is found.
Locals say the mutilated corpse must have been the victim of a random bear attack. But Zack Walker, as always, fears the worst.
When another body is discovered, it seems there is a more deadly predator on the prowl. A Lone Wolf killer who is hell-bent on laying siege to the idyllic town.
The fuse is lit and time is running out. Zack must face down a madman – or find out first-hand what the grand finale is . . .
Journalist Zack Walker has a dangerous habit of finding deadly stories. But this is one his good friend Trixie Snelling doesn’t want told.
It turns out Trixie has her fair share of skeletons in her closet and, as Zack discovers, a dead body in her basement.
With other journalists circling the story – and no sign of Trixie, who has gone missing – Zack could find himself implicated in a murder, unless he finds out the truth fast.
The bad news is: it will cost him his job, and teach him that everything he knows about his friend, his town, and even his marriage, is a lie. The good news? It hasn’t cost him his life . . . yet.