Jules Larsen just needs a break. On the same day, she loses her job and comes home to her boyfriend having sex with another woman on the couch. Up to her eyeballs in college loan debt and nowhere to live, she’s elated when she sees an ad on Craigslist offering $4000 a month to stay in the Bartholomew, a very fancy NYC apartment building that caters to the rich and famous as an apartment sitter. When she’s shown the space she’s also told the rules: no visitors, no bothering the other residents (speak only when spoken to), you must sleep in your apartment (it can’t be left unattended overnight), and no photos posted to social media of the inside of the building. For Jules it’s a no brainer, stay in luxuary for three months and get $12,000. Her friends are more skeptical, but she presses forward because she needs the cash and she needs a fresh start.
Jules makes the acquaintance of a hot doctor named Nick, pisses off her favorite author for deigning to speak to her, saves a soap star’s little dog and becomes friends with another apartment sitter named Ingrid. The two of them hit it off right away and send each other little messages through the dumbwaiter that is connected between their apartments (Jules is staying in what was once the servants’ quarters so it makes sense). Mysteriously, Ingrid disappears in the middle of the night after the two of them made plans to meet up the following day. Having already lost her sister years prior to a mysterious disappearance, Jules isn’t willing to believe that Ingrid just left on her own volition and begins to peel back the layers of what is really going on at the Bartholomew before it’s too late.
Wow. I really, really liked this book. Sager dedicates it to Ira Levin (the author of Rosemary’s Baby) and I think it’s such an apt dedication. Right from the beginning there are red flags everywhere. We know there’s something really bad going down in the Bartholomew, right when Jules is interviewed for the job. She has no family, no job and only one friend, she’s not from NYC and she’s desperate for cash. While I certainly would recognize this red flag, Jules does not, perhaps because she needs somewhere to live and she needs money right away. I am a little ashamed that I didn’t get what was going on at the Bartholomew until it was revealed to me, but I will say that it was a great book, one that I read in under three hours. Riding high on the Sager book train, I’m sad to announce that he doesn’t have another one coming out until this summer which I look forward to reading. Sager continues to impress me with each novel–all share common themes and similar main characters in one way or another but the books are not formulaic and definitely not the same.