- Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (April 26 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553587048
- ISBN-13: 978-0553587043
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.8 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Bad Move Mass Market Paperback – Apr 26 2005
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Zack Walker is a man with too much time on his hands. To avoid the deadline for his next science fiction novel, he wanders around his seemingly tranquil suburban neighbourhood, the calm setting safety-obsessed Zack pictured when he moved his family out of the crime-ridden inner city. This placid portrait is rudely interrupted, though, when he stumbles across the body of an apparent murder victim, and when he starts to indulge in some amateur sleuthing, Zack gets to know his neighbors a little better, including an S&M dominatrix and a professional pot grower, whose help he has to enlist once his snooping puts his family in danger.
Bad Move is the first thriller from veteran Toronto Star humour columnist Linwood Barclay, and it is a highly entertaining debut. Many of Barclay's columns revolve around the foibles of family life in the suburbs, and he brings this sensibility to work here, with very funny results. Whereas the heroes of crime fiction are all too often a cynical male loner or a single woman balancing her love life and crime fighting, Barclay's protagonist is a happily married suburban husband and father. Barclay clearly reads the other pages of his newspaper, as Toronto-based readers can easily identify situations and characters torn from real headlines, including greedy real estate developers clashing with environmentalists, bawdy houses, and suburban marijuana growing operations. Yes, there are occasionally flaws in the credibility of the unfolding events, and plot twists are sometimes just a mite predictable, but Bad Move has to be judged a very readable effort. Let's hope for more of Walker's suburban sleuthing. --Kerry Doole
From Publishers Weekly
Riotously funny and irreverent, Canadian journalist Barclay's mystery debut is a rollicking good read. When Zack Walker, a sometimes cranky and always paranoid science fiction writer, moves with his family from the city to Valley Forest Estates, he soon finds that life in the suburbs can be dangerous, even deadly. Envious of a childhood friend who once found a drowning victim, Zack gets his wish and stumbles across the body of Samuel Spender, a zealous conservationist who'd been trying to prevent the final phase of Valley Forest's construction around the habitat of a rare salamander. In his campaign, Spender made several enemies, including the subdivision's sales manager, Don Greenway. Zack, who witnessed a heated argument between Spender and Greenway the day the conservationist died, is soon neck-deep in trouble when he finds a second body, a cache of cash and a canister of undeveloped film. Murder, blackmail and extortion are just the tip of the iceberg, as Zack realizes some very nasty people want what he has and will stop at nothing to get it. While Zack is an amazingly flawed hero, he's a breath of fresh air with no illusions about his odd compulsions and his limited abilities. His often exasperated wife Sarah makes the perfect comic foil. Fans of lighter crime capers will rejoice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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BAD MOVE defies easy categorization, and bless Barclay for that. It is a mystery, yes, but there is a vein of humor that runs wide and deep through it. I was put in the mind of Donald Westlake in more than a couple of spots, although Barclay seems to have wanted to write a gently cautionary tale as well; if he did, he has succeeded.
The Walker family is living in the big city and finds that their comfortable neighborhood is falling, falling down before their eyes. Drug dealers plying their trade, punks on the street corners, hookers on the streets ... things are simply not as they were.
Zack Walker, husband and father to his ungrateful and unappreciative family, is a science fiction writer of some minor renown who seems to spend more time off of the keyboard than on it. Walker is a bit of a safety and security freak, in a family of devil-may cares. He has some insight into his extremes. I was somewhat unsettled to discover him playing tricks on his family to make them observe some basic security rules (locking the door, keeping objects off of the stairs) that I have done with my own family.
Walker, fed up with the deterioration of his neighborhood, gets the idea to move to the suburbs. His wife is initially against it, but after a trip to Valley Forest Estates in the town of Oakwood she is eventually won over (the item that tips her over favoring the move had me howling and is all too true). The Walkers pack up and move. Everything seems to be placid and quiet (and, to the children, maybe a little too quiet), the perfect balm for the afflictions that caused the Walkers to leave in the first place. Except that ... it's not. The builder does not seem interested in complying with the warranty, the family can't eat those great cannolis they used to get in their own neighborhood --- and then, there's the dead body.
Walker, while out for a morning walk, discovers a local tree-hugging activist dead under very suspicious circumstances, made all the more suspicious due to the fact that he and the local developer were often literally at each other's throats. When yet another safety trick of Walker's backfires very dramatically on him, he finds that in the short course of an afternoon and evening he has placed his family in greater danger than they faced in their former urban environs. The law of unintended consequences is in full bore here, as Walker races against time and the bad guys to save his family from a danger he has unleashed upon himself and them.
While parts of BAD MOVE are hilarious, it is by turns very grim and graphic as well. Not every reader is going to be able to make the jump back and forth. It would be worth your while to try, however. Barclay has a keen grasp of the life in the subdivisions, as is demonstrated by the cast of characters he has created and presented in BAD MOVE. Barclay also very neatly saves a plot twist for the near end of the book; I never saw it coming and was delighted when it did. Barclay additionally does a fine job of laying on the irony, making for a most satisfactory novel.
While BAD MOVE may be Barclay's first foray into fiction, it hopefully will not be his last. Barclay demonstrates a fine and steady hand, as well as keen insight into and a canny knowledge of his subject matter, combining those elements with an extremely readable writing style and a highly imaginative yet credible plot. You can't ask for any more than that.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
One day when Zack and his wife are at the supermarket, he notices his spouse left her purse in the cart. To teach her a lesson he takes the bag and puts it in the trunk of the car so she will think it is stolen. When his wife comes back to the car, he realizes she is wearing a fanny pack and he stole someone else's purse. By the time he tracks the owner down, he finds her murdered in her home and realizes he has stumbled into a dangerous situation that puts him and his family in harm's way.
BAD MOVE is one of the most exciting crime thrillers of the year as the troubles the protagonist finds himself in borders on the slapstick. His obsessive need for safety lands him in trouble with businessmen, politicians and a cold blooded killer who wants nothing more than to murder the hero and read his latest science fiction manuscript. Making all the right moves, Linwood Barclay has a refreshingly original voice that this reviewer believes will turn him into a superstar in the crime thriller sub-genre.
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