Review: A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover (August 6, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0451414187
  • Source: Publisher

Two months ago Cal Weaver’s teenage son, Scott, died in a tragic accident. The grief Cal and his wife, Donna, have endured is forcing them apart. His obsession in learning what really happened that fateful evening has consumed Cal. He uses his experience as a private investigator to begin stalking those that might have information about Scott’s death.

One evening, as he is trolling around town in the rain, someone taps on the window of his car. A young girl, covered in rain, introduces herself as Claire. Despite the fact that Cal knows that inviting her into his car is a dumb move, when Claire admits to knowing Scott he believes he may be able to get some information from her.  Cal realizes something isn’t right with the situation but it’s far too late.

Call gets pulled into an investigation of murder, an investigation that unveils a wealth of secrets kept by those of authority in the small New York town. Lies, murder, affairs…all being covered up to protect those in power. Once Cal begins to slowly peel back all the secrets he soon discovers his own life is in danger but is willing to risk everything if it means that years of corruption are brought to the surface, including information about what truly transpired the night of Scott’s death.

At over 500 pages, A Tap on the Window is a novel in which you really have to invest a lot of time. While I am a long-time fan of Barclay’s work and typically enjoy his writing, this one seemed a bit to lengthy for me. Scenes and dialogue that didn’t deserve a great deal of description seemed long-winded to me, taking away the intensity that might have existed if the writing was more concise.  That said, Barclay makes up for it with his intensely designed characters.

Cal Weaver has serious anger issues.  While he has recently lost his only son, that only serves as a partial excuse, for his aggression in the field is what caused him to lose his job as a police officer, forcing him to move his family to this small town. Several times he crosses the line in order to get answers, coming far too close to killing in the name of gaining more information. It is this general attitude Cal exudes that makes him a difficult character to connect with, but a softer, more human side is revealed as the reader delves deeper and deeper into the book.  It isn’t until the final pages, however, that we get a glimpse of the genuine, vulnerable, Cal Weaver.

While I did have some issues with this novel, I still recommend it to fans of intense psychological thrillers. Barclay is a truly talented writer, praised by many of the thriller greats. If you have the patience to tackle a book of this length, wait patiently as the storyline unfolds, you will be handsomely rewarded.

3 Comments to "Review: A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay"

  1. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    Twitter: BeckyLeJeune
    July 31, 2013 - 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I was wondering if you’d have yours up today as well since we started at the same time. Haha! I did like the longer length and the slower pacing here. Could be partially because I had a lot of reading time to fill what with no sleeping, though.

  2. July 31, 2013 - 11:43 AM | Permalink

    I love Linwood Barclay and have read all his books, so I will read this one also :) For readers who don’t know him, he is worth picking up. Once described as the Canadian version of Harlan Coben, if that puts him in perspective. Thanks for sharing this book review.

  3. Keen Reader's Gravatar Keen Reader
    October 14, 2013 - 8:38 PM | Permalink

    Though Harlan Coben doesn’t set all his books in Canada, whereas the Canadian Barclay sets all his in the U.S.

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