In the too-quiet town of Oakwood, only the lucky die of boredom . . . and new homeowner Zack Walker isn’t feeling lucky. Whoever said the burbs were boring will think twice after reading Linwood Barclay’s hilarious debut mystery, in which Dad learns the hard way that he doesn’t always know best.
Zack wouldn’t blame you for thinking he’s safety-obsessed. True, he masterminded a plot to trade his family’s exciting city lifestyle for one of suburban tranquillity. True, even after this strategic move, Zack still has issues with family members who forget their keys in the front door, leave their cars unlocked, or park their backpacks at the top of the stairs—where you could kill yourself tripping over them. Just ask his wife, Sarah, or his teenage kids, Paul and Angie, who endure their share of lectures.
Zack knows that he needs to chill out and assume the best for once—but we know what happens to those who assume.
When Zack realizes their two-faced developer sent a petty thief to fix their leaky shower, he starts fighting hard to ignore the fact that Oakwood isn’t the crime-free paradise he was hoping for. But his brief state of denial comes to an abrupt end when, during a walk by the creek, he stumbles across a dead body. Even more shocking, Zack actually knows who the victim is—and who might want him dead.
With a killer roaming around their neighborhood and Zack’s overactive imagination in overdrive, he’s sure things can’t get any worse. But then another local is murdered—and Zack’s paranoid tendencies get him implicated in the crime. While his wife is trying to remember why she married him in the first place, and his kids are considering whether it’s time to have him committed, Zack decides there’s only one thing he can do. To protect his family—and avoid being busted for a crime he didn’t commit—he’s going to have to override his safety-first instincts, tap into his delusions of machismo, and track down the killer himself.
Riotously funny and irreverent, Canadian journalist Barclay's mystery debut is a rollicking good read. When Zack Walker, a sometimes cranky and always paranoid science fiction writer, moves with his family from the city to Valley Forest Estates, he soon finds that life in the suburbs can be dangerous, even deadly. Envious of a childhood friend who once found a drowning victim, Zack gets his wish and stumbles across the body of Samuel Spender, a zealous conservationist who'd been trying to prevent the final phase of Valley Forest's construction around the habitat of a rare salamander. In his campaign, Spender made several enemies, including the subdivision's sales manager, Don Greenway. Zack, who witnessed a heated argument between Spender and Greenway the day the conservationist died, is soon neck-deep in trouble when he finds a second body, a cache of cash and a canister of undeveloped film. Murder, blackmail and extortion are just the tip of the iceberg, as Zack realizes some very nasty people want what he has and will stop at nothing to get it. While Zack is an amazingly flawed hero, he's a breath of fresh air with no illusions about his odd compulsions and his limited abilities. His often exasperated wife Sarah makes the perfect comic foil. Fans of lighter crime capers will rejoice.
I just couldn't finish it. If you like "nice" crime stories, you might like this. The main character is so exasperatingly stupid/cute.
I absolutely loved this book. Wonderful characters and a story so complex and exciting that I couldn't put it down. I'm off to buy the sequel.