Bantam, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by David Pitt
ed up with the violence and general unpleasantness of the big city, science-fiction writer Zack Walker and his family eagerly move to the quiet town of Oakwood. Well, when I say his family, I mean Zack and his wife. His teenaged kids are rather less excited, and predict endless hours of rampant boredom.
h boy, are they wrong. Turns out the developer of Zack's new house is a little, shall we say, shady. Some of the neighbours are curious, perhaps even weird. Oh, and somebody in the tight-knit community is a murderer. And Zack is pretty sure he knows who.
omic mysteries aren't easy (just ask all the writers who fail at them), and Barclay, a Toronto Star columnist, does a first-rate job here. Our hero, Zack, is an engaging narrator, a man a little too concerned with safety issues (he likes to nag his family about cars left unlocked, or keys left in front doors), a little too imaginative (well, he writes sci-fi, after all), a little too paranoid (or perhaps the world really is out to get him).
he plot is solid, well constructed, and genuinely suspenseful. The laughs come at a steady pace, not often enough to overwhelm the story but often enough to keep a smile on your face. At once a gentle satire of life in the suburbs, and a sharply written mystery, the book's a real winner.
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