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Lockdown by Laurie R. King


by Laurie R. King

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A troubled middle school in a poor urban neighborhood is experiencing a rebirth thanks to a decimated and gifted principal named Linda along with the subtle wisdom of Tío the janitor. Of course, there are others, teachers, parents, students who all contribute to the school coming together in spite of the odds and the odds are tough. A beloved little young girl named Bea has disappeared, nearly breaking her friends, particularly young Nick. Then there was the murder of one student’s babysitter by another student’s brother and the divided loyalties that created as one student is now testifying against the killer. But it’s Career Day, a special day exploring hopes and dreams as well as the challenges and realities of their futures.

The story progresses in several short, short chapters, a tick tock of their lives from midnight to just after noon. There are a few interstitial chapters that give background and context. There are some case notes from Nick’s school counselor. Students are preparing for the day, some with anger and some with fear. Some feel as though today is the day for drastic action. You know something is about to happen, the tension builds inexorably. We follow several students and staff and even a local police officer there to talk about her job for Career Day….and yet I was still surprised. It was always fair, but so surprising.

Laurie R. King has created some memorable series characters during her long, impressive writing career. There’s Mary Russell, Sherlock Holme’s fearless and peerless wife. Then there is Kate Martinelli, the San Francisco police detective. She mines the era between the wars with Stuyvesant & Grey. She’s recently moved away from series and Lockdown stands on its own. I will say, though, it was a pleasure to encounter a favorite character from the Kate Martinellis series who pops up to give a little bit of help to the cop.

I enjoyed Lockdown very much. The pace kept getting faster and faster and faster. It is an ambitious story and suggests another novel that must be written, the story of Bea. But then I want a sequel with Gordon and Linda, too. So I am greedy. And that brings up the one flaw in Lockdown. It is not one story, it is many stories. There is the school tragedy thriller, the mercenaries and revenge thriller, the haunted house and multiverse adventure, and surely Tío has more stories in him, too. There’s an incomplete quality. We rush headlong to the crisis, then the denouement is wrapped up in a few paragraphs…with a short coda. I think King fell in love with these characters and overloaded this book with too many who are too interesting. I know that’s an odd criticism, I know, but it made the book feel unfinished for me. Which means King needs to get busy and give us more of these endearing people.

Lockdown will be released June 13th. I received an e-galley in advance from the publisher through NetGalley.

http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/9780804177931/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | May 23, 2017 |
I wish I could join in the praise for this book. Laurie King has an engaging writing style that I truly enjoyed reading. She has the ability to put me right in the moment with the characters, so I feel their emotions and the turmoil of the situation. Unfortunately, this story just didn't work for me stylistically.

Virtually every character in this book has a narrating part, and there are a lot of characters. We shift narrator every few pages. The switch is clear, as the chapter heading gives us the narrator's name, but for me these short vignettes lacked the coherent feel of a solid story. Most of the characters don't start intersecting paths until halfway through the book. Each section on its own is a compelling read, but there are too many things going on. It's a bit of sensory overload.

To further hinder the story's flow, we also have quite a few flashbacks. We go back thirty years, in several different chapters, to see how a particular couple met. While some of that information eventually plays into the present timeline, it detracted too much from the immediacy of the story. Then we also go back eleven months for another character's memories.

The interruptions in the present timeline, combined with the ever-revolving cast of characters feels too disjointed, making it difficult for me to focus and stay connected. I respect the author's approach here. Individually, each character fascinated me. But, as a whole, the story didn't move me as it otherwise could have.

*I received an advance review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | May 18, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804177937, Hardcover)

A classroom is held hostage by someone with a thirst for revenge in this stunningly intricate, ripped-from-the-headlines novel of rich psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell mysteries.

Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: a day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King is an award-winning master of combining rich atmospheric detail with riveting, keen-edged mystery. Now, in her newest standalone novel of psychological suspense, King turns her sharp eye to a moment torn from the headlines and a school under threat.
A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.
A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.

Tense, poignant, and brilliantly paced, Laurie R. King’s novel charts compelling characters on a collision course—a chain of interactions that locks together hidden lives, troubling secrets, and the bravest impulses of the human heart. 

The award-winning novels of Laurie R. King are . . . 
“Sharp, inventive and rewarding.”The Seattle Times
“Audacious.”—Los Angeles Times
“Rousing . . . riveting . . . suspenseful.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Impossible to put down.”Romantic Times
“Beguiling . . . tantalizing.”The Boston Globe
“Stunning.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Delightful.”Booklist (starred review)

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:17:46 -0500)

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