The To-Read Pile

There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…

Big Review: A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

You may have heard that this last Thursday was Super Thursday, which (if you didn’t know) is one of the biggest publishing days in the year. Books are usually released on Thursdays and publishers tend to launch all of the big new titles that they want you to buy for Christmas in October, so that you have time to see them and tell everyone that you’d like a copy. Or so that you can see them and immediately buy yourself copies. Either is fine.

One of the Super Thursday books this year was the brand new crime thriller by Linwood Barclay: A Tap on the Window. I’ve been a Linwood Barclay fan ever since one of my crime-reading friends recommended me his first book and I was actually lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this one.


A Tap on the Window starts with a man in a car. He’s stopped at traffic lights when the girl taps on the window and asks for a ride. He intends to turn her down but he doesn’t. And that’s when all the trouble starts because the girl he picks up isn’t the same girl he drops off.

What I liked:

There’s a very noir style to this book that I really enjoyed. The narrator, Cal, (the man in the car at the beginning of the story) is a private investigator with a shady past and a cynical worldview. I’m a big fan of the noir private investigator. Growing up, I wanted to be Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. My love of noir really informed my love of Veronica Mars. If you haven’t watched Veronica Mars, you really should. Just remember, they only ever made one season. Maybe one and a half. It was such a shame.

Cal is a man with his own agenda and makes an excellent narrator for the story that unfolds.

The plot was enjoyably twisty with plenty of both genuine clues and red herrings. There was also more than one mystery in there.

There were some really interesting character dynamics at play in this story. I particularly liked Cal’s wife, Donna, and I thought the strain in their relationship after the loss of their teenage son was delicately and accurately portrayed.

The writing was excellent and it was a genuinely thrilling thriller.

What I didn’t like:

Although he was an excellent narrator, I actually thought that Cal was an awful human and not someone I would like to know. This is a story that gets very ugly in places and, most of the time, I found Cal pretty unsympathetic.

In places, the story was slightly formulaic and the ending bothered me because it felt unnecessary.


This is a really gripping book and, if you enjoy crime thrillers, this is definitely worth a read. Linwood Barclay definitely knows how to tell a story and keep you guessing. I don’t want to spoil it for you but, if you do read it, please let me know your thoughts about the ending. I have a lot of thoughts about it.


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This entry was posted on October 12, 2013 by in Reviews and tagged , , , .
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