A TAP ON THE WINDOW by Linwood Barclay
August 6, 2013
If you are a fan of Linwood Barclay, and you should be, A Tap on the Window will reinforce that feeling. If you aren’t yet one of his devoted followers, this book will drag you into those ranks. It’s good. Very good.
Cal Weaver is a broken man. Years earlier, he lost his police officer status for various misbehaviors and now he is reeling from the recent death of his son, Scott. A hallucinogenic-drug-induced, one-way-flight from a tall building. His marriage to wife Donna, whose brother is Griffon’s police chief, is fractured along with his psyche as he attempts to right his ship and focus on his work as a private investigator.
His cases are mostly boring, someone stealing meat from a local butcher for example, and his obsession with digging into the cause of Scott’s apparent suicide leads him to some fairly sordid and threatening arm-twisting of kids who knew and attended school with Scott. I mean locking one of them in the truck of a car for Christ sakes. His life seems out of control, confused, disoriented, and in many ways purposeless. But everything changed one stormy evening with “a tap on the window.”
While waiting at a stop light, a rain-soaked teenage girl raps on the passenger window and asks for a ride home. She’s Claire Sanders, the mayor’s daughter and a friend of Scott’s. He couldn’t leave her in the rain could he? But when she asks to detour by a local bar to meet a friend, everything changes. She goes, in, Cal waits. And waits. Finally he searches the bar but she is nowhere to be found. Then, he finds her sitting in his car. Back on the road, he quickly realizes the girl sitting next to him is not Claire. Sure she looks a lot like her, but it’s not her. After he calls her on it, the girl jumps from the car and disappears into the stormy night. Only to later turn up murdered.
From this beginning a story unfolds. One of small town politics, graft, corruption, infidelity, abuse of power, and family secrets that run deep and wide. The story is convoluted and brisk, keeping the reader guessing until the end. An excellent story, very well written.