Title: The Escape Room
Author: Megan Goldin
Published: May 28th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?
Last year I found myself quite taken with the new voice of Megan Goldin, a fresh talent in the crowded psychological thriller genre. In my review of Goldin’s debut novel The Girl in Kellers Way, I remarked on how I was keen to hear more from this exciting new voice. Goldin’s second novel, The Escape Room, is a novel I have been very keen to get my hands on and my enthusiasm going into this novel was definitely rewarded.
The Escape Room brings the reader to the heart of the finance world, Wall Street. We meet high flyer Vincent and his colleagues, Jules, Sylvie and Sam. All are incredibly motivated to achieve high economic success and will go to any lengths possible to achieve this status. All live a life of luxury and entitlement. But this foursome find their lives at risk when they become trapped in an elevator escape room. At first they think this is simply a team building exercise, but things soon take a turn for the worst. To break free from the elevator escape room the foursome must solve the clues put before them and work as a team. The team must put their differences aside for the purposes of survival. But the claustrophobic nature of the elevator closes in on the group and before long shocking revelations are made. It soon becomes clear that the group’s underhanded business dealings are catching up them, namely a sexual harassment claim. As the team of four become short-tempered and under increasing pressure to solve the clues put before them to survive this ordeal, a killer is revealed.
Megan Goldin’s second novel reaches into the depths of one of my greatest fears and I’m sure one shared by many readers, being trapped in an elevator. Recently I found myself trapped in a shopping centre elevator (only for a short time) but the panic set in quick. I found my heart racing and the sweat beads began to form very quick. The feeling of utter relief when the doors opened was overwhelming. Goldin taps into this fear, she portrays the feeling of entrapment, the claustrophobia and helplessness. But Goldin turns this scenario on its head by adding a twist with the use of the escape room clues and the puzzle of who committed a murder for the foursome to solve during their captivity. This is a book that not only contains plenty of twists, there are a fair share of grey areas, serving up plenty of questions for the reader to stew over.
The Escape Room follows a great written structure. Goldin alternates chapters, whereby the four trapped in the elevator and she interchanges it with the compelling narrative of a young woman named Sara Hall. We soon learn Sara once worked for the same firm as the foursome. I really enjoyed getting to know Sara and working out her role in the puzzle this book offered. I had some suspicions, but they were incorrect, so kudos to Goldin for tricking me! Readers will find Sara a likeable character and the underlying beliefs she has while working for the Wall Street business firm earns our empathy. Sara is one character we just can’t help but cheer on.
The foursome who find themselves locked in the elevator, all employees of the same business firm, are an interesting collective. Goldin employs the use of the slow reveal to expose each character’s back story and the reason why they have been placed in the elevator. Goldin uses these characters to expose of world is greed, entitlement and selfishness. Goldin takes a scathing look at the white collar world, revealing a cut throat corporate world where crimes of this nature can be committed. ‘Watch your back’ immediately springs to mind when I think about the personalities that populate this novel. And there are plenty of heroes versus villains in this tale.
The prologue really pulled me into this novel, but as a fan of Goldin’s writing I knew it wasn’t going to take much to draw me in. The prologue is pretty shocking, giving us a precursor to the crime that has been committed. Readers will find the ensuing tale is one filled with a dubious character set, slow but steady plot reveals and clever writing, that is easy to sit back and engage with. I personally couldn’t keep my eyes off this novel, no matter how hard I tried to separate myself from the book. When the ending came I cursed myself for not picking up the clues much earlier!
Wall Street high flyers, the question of entitlement, an elevator and a killer puzzle to solve before it’s too late, is what defines the second novel from Australian author Megan Goldin. It was a very different outing this time around with Megan Goldin, but The Escape Room is a book that delivers.
The Escape Room by Megan Goldin was published on May 28th 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Escape Room, Megan Goldin visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Escape Room is book #66 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge