“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. This is one of the lines telegraphed at the beginning of Riley Sager’s Lock Every Door, which inevitably (and unsurprisingly) ends up being far too real for the young protagonist, Jules. Jules is a recently unemployed young woman, nursing a newly broken heart and living on a best friend’s couch, trying to figure her life out. When she finds an opportunity as an apartment sitter, getting to live in the fancy building (albeit with a notorious history) of her dreams, all while making cash for doing very little, she jumps at the chance. But as Jules moves in and starts to become acquainted with the old, gothic Bartholomew building, she finds that the rules are strict and some people strange; she can’t help but feel like something is not quite right in this big old building, and she may have just put herself into the crosshairs of something sinister.
Lock Every Door is successful in setting up a mystery to unravel, with enough twists to keep up the pace throughout. However, I found that despite the eerie feeling that was trying to develop, I never quite felt a tension as the whole thing played out. It just clipped along very quickly, (the whole story only takes place over about a week) and felt very heavy-handed in making sure the clues were not missed and we knew for sure something was amiss. I love it when there is a sense that something isn’t right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it so there’s just a sense of unease, but here I always felt like I could always pinpoint exactly what was wrong or would come back later. Which is fine! But the mood wasn’t quite established for me.
Nonetheless, this was still a mystery that I liked seeing evolve as it went through, not to mention that Jules is a great character who is determined, and understandable in her motivations. She is also relatable in struggling with her position and worth in society with its class divides. These themes are a great inclusion in the story, and I would have liked to see them developed further before the ending wrapped everything up so quickly in the final explanatory chapter. So overall, Lock Every Door wasn’t a perfect read for me, but one that kept the pages turning and never dragged across its mysterious unfolding.