I came to this book immediately after having read Sager’s “Home Before Dark” which I devoured breathlessly. Sadly, “Lock Every Door” didn’t live up to my expectations.
It starts out interesting enough: Jules, 25, has lost her parents some years ago, now she has just lost her job and left her boyfriend because he cheated. While she tries to put her life back together, she sleeps on a friend’s couch. This is when she gets a job as an apartment sitter in the “Bartholomew”, a posh apartment building in New York City. Apart from a few weird rules (“no visitors at all”, “every night must be spent at the apartment”) everything seems fine until Jules meets another, rather peculiar, apartment sitter who then proceeds to disappear…
The setting is perfect, the ideas are good but this is a book of missed opportunities because the characters and the building itself are fairly interesting but Sager doesn’t really use that: The apartment sitter who vanishes, Ingrid? Jules just met her three times and immediately believes pretty much everything Ingrid tells her. Nick, the nice and hot surgeon next door? He’s potentially an interesting character but he doesn’t get enough focus by far. Or the residents, or Charlie, the doorman – they all remain flat and shallow. Whereas I’d have liked to get to know them a bit, they’re treated as accessories.
The building features gargoyles – what a chance for an author to evoke even more of a Gothic atmosphere but Sager misses that opportunity as well. Jules even names the gargoyle next to her bedroom “George” but apart from a dream or two, he just sits there on his ledge.
While “Lock Every Door” is still a page turner, it never reaches the quality of “The Last Time I Lied” or “Home Before Dark”. Building up suspense and a latent atmosphere of threat – which I expect from a good thriller – takes time but everything in this book feels rushed. We hardly met Ingrid and gone she is. Dylan, another apartment sitter? Gone before he could take shape. The aging one-hit-wonder author? We hear a bit about her but then she’s (mostly) whisked away.
And then there’s the ending… The mystery behind what happens in the Batholomew is outlandish, absurd and unbelievable. It feels rushed as well – just as if Sager felt he was running out of ideas and had to come to a conclusion. Any conclusion.
No, this, sadly, was very disappointing compared to Riley Sager’s other works and, thus, I can only award a still-generous three stars.