Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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Dutton | 2019

Filed Under: The entitlement of the rich.

If I had never read Final Girls or The Last Time I Lied, would I be giving this a higher rating?? Maybe. Please don’t look at my less-than-enthused review as a reason to not read this book, because everything Sager writes is a book to read, imho.

However, this third novel by Sager is just not as strong an offering as his previous two. Again, just my fangirl opinion.

I truly do love Sager. He and I should obviously be best friends because we like all the same things. And he’s built a writing career around paying homage to those favourite influences in the most satisfying way for me as a reader.

Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby meets the United States poverty gap and healthcare. There are some elements included in the plot that are a bit misleading – is it a ghost story? Horror? Is there something satanic going on? But Sager takes that part of Rosemary’s Baby and flips it on its head to create commentary about U.S. healthcare and income inequality.

Now there’s a horror story, she says in Canadian.

That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to get into spoilers.

As much as I liked the angle the plot ended up taking, I found the build-up to the meat of the story to be a bit slow, and probably because of this, the ending was anti-climatic.

Jules is couch-surfing at a friend’s place after breaking up with her cheating dude-bro-lite boyfriend and losing her under-paying job. It’s a tale as old as time.

beauty and the beast ballroom GIF by Disney

She’s got a dwindling chequing account (that’s a checking account for the Americans out there,) and zero job options in a market flooded with recent grads with all the same qualifications.

When Jules comes across a Craigslist ad offering $12k for 3 months of apartment sitting, she feels like she’s hit the jackpot. A really small jackpot, but a jackpot nonetheless. What’s better, the luxury apartment is located in the legendary and super spooky building, The Bartholomew – the notorious setting of her favourite novel ever.

Jules gets the job, and even though it comes with a weird set of strict rules – no guests, no taking pictures for social media – and her friends’ are screaming about the red flags this job is clearly throwing up, Jules has her rose-coloured glasses on. And when you’re wearing rose-coloured glasses, red flags just look like regular flags.

GIF by Love Island Australia

But really, Jules feels like she doesn’t have much of a choice. Again, you are getting that wealth inequality commentary. Sager keeps it 100 with his hot takes by working them into the plot, and not getting preachy.

After moving in, things start to get creepy and mysterious. The tenants are odd, old and standoffish. Then her only friend in the building goes missing. As she digs into it, Jules finds her missing friend isn’t the only apartment sitter to disappear from the Bartholomew without a trace.

Sager takes his time to create suspense around the events in the building, focusing a lot of page space on character building for Jules. I did totally feel like I knew her as a person, but I would have liked to see things start to happen sooner in the plot, even if it was just cursory to Jules’ personal issues. It felt like things were held back too long and the timing was off.

Despite those couple of things, it’s still a compulsively readable and suspenseful book thanks to Sager’s masterful grasp of prose and setting creation.

The moral of the story really comes down to, “nothing good ever comes from Craigslist” and “rich people are fucked up.” So read it if those things appeal to you.


Im Out Amy Poehler GIF by FOX TV


No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

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