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Fiction Suspense

Elevator Pitch

by (author) Linwood Barclay

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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The #1 bestselling Linwood Barclay returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach—a heart-pounding tale of terror and menace that will make you think twice the next time you hit Up.

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan of?ce tower. Each presses a button for their “oor, but the elevator proceeds, nonstop, to the top. Once there it pauses for a few seconds, but the doors don't open. Instead, the elevator begins to descend “oor-by-?oor. Then it plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a random accident. . . . But on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And then Wednesday brings yet another tragic high-rise catastrophe. In only three days, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation's capital of media, “nance and entertainment--is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it's succeeding. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in of?ces across the city refuse to leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top “oors of apartment towers go unanswered.

Who is behind this” Why are they doing it” Are these deadly acts of sabotage somehow connected to a “ngerless body found on the High Line” Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist race against time to uncover the truth before the city's newest, and tallest, residential tower has its ribbon-cutting on Friday night.

With each diabolical twist, Linwood Barclay ratchets up the tension, building to a shattering finale. Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill you to the bone.

About the author

Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star. He is the #1 internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including The Accident, Never Look Away, Fear the Worst, Too Close to Home, and No Time for Goodbye. Multiple titles have been optioned for film.

Linwood Barclay's profile page

Excerpt: Elevator Pitch (by (author) Linwood Barclay)


Stuart Bland figured if he posted himself close to the elevators, there was no way he could miss Sherry D’Agostino.
He knew she arrived at the offices of Cromwell Entertainment, which were on the thirty-third floor of the Lansing Tower, on Third between Fifty-Ninth and Sixtieth, every morning between 8:30 and 8:45. A car was sent to her Brooklyn Heights address each day to bring her here. No taxi or subway for Sherry D’Agostino, Cromwell’s vice president of creative.
Stuart glanced about nervously. A FedEx ID tag he’d swiped a couple of years ago when he worked at a dry cleaner got him past security. That, and the FedEx cardboard envelope he was clutching, and the FedEx shirt and ball cap he had bought online. He kept the visor low on his forehead. There was every reason to believe the security desk had been handed his mug shot and been advised to keep an eye out for him. D’Agostino—no relation to the New York grocery chain—knew his name, and it’d be easy enough to grab a picture of him off his Facebook page.
But in all truth, he was on a delivery. Tucked into the envelope was his script, Clock Man.
He wouldn’t have had to take these extra steps if he hadn’t overplayed his hand, going to Sherry D’Agostino’s home, knocking on the door, ringing the bell repeatedly until some little girl, no more than five years old, answered and he stepped right past her into the house. Then Sherry showed up and screamed at him to get away from her daughter and out of the house or she’d call the police.
A stalker, she called him. That stung.
Okay, maybe he could have handled that better. Stepping into the house, okay, that was a mistake. But she had no one to blame but herself. If she’d accepted even one of his phone calls, just one, so that he could pitch his idea to her, tell her about his script, he wouldn’t have had to go to her house, would he” She had no idea how hard he’d been working on this. No idea that ten months earlier he’d quit his job making pizzas—unlike the dry-cleaning gig, leaving the pizza place was his own decision—to work full-time on getting his script just perfect. The way he figured it, time was running out. He was thirty-eight years old. If he was to make it as a screenwriter, he had to commit now.
But the whole system was so terribly unfair. Why shouldn’t someone like him be able to get a five-minute audience with her, make his pitch” Why should it only be established writers, those assholes in Hollywood with their fancy cars and big swimming pools and agents with Beverly Hills zip codes. Who said their ideas were any better than his?
So he watched her for a couple of days to learn her routine. That was how he knew she’d be getting into one of these four elevators in the next few minutes. In fact, it would be one of two elevators. The two on the left stopped at floors one through twenty, the two on the right served floors twenty-one through forty.
He leaned up against the marble wall opposite the elevators, head down, trying to look inconspicuous, but always watching. There was a steady flow of people, and it’d be easy for Sherry to get lost in the crowd. But the good thing was, she liked bright colors. Yellows, pinks, turquoise. Never black or dark blue. She stood out. And she was blond, her hair puffed up the way some women do it, like she went at with a bicycle pump in the morning. She could be standing in a hurricane, have every stitch of clothing blown off her, but there wouldn’t be one hair out of place. As long as Stuart kept a sharp lookout, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t miss her. Soon as she got on the elevator, he’d step on with her.
Shit, there she was.
Striding across the lobby, those heels adding about three inches to her height. Stuart figured she was no more than five-two in her stocking feet, but even as small as she was, she had a presence. Chin up, eyes forward. Stuart had checked her out on IMDb, so he knew she was nearly forty. Looked good. Just a year or two older than he was. Imagine walking into Gramercy Tavern with her on his arm.
Yeah, like that was gonna happen.
According to what he’d read online, she’d started in television as a script supervisor in her early twenties and quickly worked her way up. Did a stint at HBO, then Showtime, then got lured away by Cromwell to develop new projects. The way Stuart saw it, she was his ticket to industry-wide acclaim as a hot new screenwriter.
Sherry D’Agostino stood between the two right-hand elevators. There were two other people waiting. A man, sixtyish, in a dark gray suit, your typical Business Guy, and a woman, early twenties, wearing sneakers she’d no doubt change out of once she got to her desk. Secretary, Stuart figured. There was something anonymous and worker bee about Sneaker Girl. He came up behind the three of them, waiting to step into whichever elevator came first. He glanced up at the numbers. A tiny digital readout above each elevator indicated its position. The one on the right was at forty-eight, the one on the left at thirty-one, then thirty.
Going down.
Sherry and the other two shifted slightly to the left set of doors, leaving room for those who would be getting off.
The doors parted and five people disembarked. Once they were out of the way, Sherry, Business Guy, Sneaker Girl, and Stuart got on. Stuart managed to spin around behind Sherry as everyone turned to face front.
The elevator doors closed.
Sherry pressed “33,” Sneaker Girl “34,” and the Business Guy “37.”
When Stuart did not reach over to press one of the many buttons, the man, who was standing closest to the panel, glanced his way, silently offering to press a button for him.
“I’m good,” he said.
The elevator silently began its ascent. Sherry and the other woman looked up to catch the latest news. The elevator was fitted with a small video screen that ran a kind of chyron, a line of headlines moving from right to left.
New York forecast high 64 low 51 mostly sunny.
Stuart moved forward half a step so he was almost rubbing shoulders with Sherry. “How are you today, Ms. D’Agostino?”

She turned her head from reading the screen and said, “Fine, thank—”
And then she saw who he was. Her eyes flickered with fear. Her body leaned away from him, but her feet were rooted to the same spot in the elevator floor.
Stuart held out the FedEx package. “I wanted to give you this. That’s all. I just want you to have it.”
“I told you to stay away from me,” she said, not accepting it.
The man and woman turned their heads.
“It’s cool,” Stuart said, smiling at them. “Everything’s fine.” He kept holding out the package to Sherry. “Take it. You’ll love it.”
“I’m sorry, you have to—”
“Okay, okay, wait. Let me just tell you about it, then. Once you hear what it’s about, I guarantee you’ll want to read it.”
The elevator made a soft whirring noise as it sped past the first twenty floors.
Sherry glanced at the numbers flashing by on the display above the door, then up to the news line. Latest unemployment figures show rate fell 0.2 percent last month. She sighed, her resistance fading.
“You’ve got fifteen seconds,” she said. “If you follow me off, I’ll call security.”
Stuart beamed. “Okay! Right. So you’ve got this guy, he’s like, thirty, and he works—”
“Ten seconds,” she said. “Sum it up in one sentence.”
Stuart suddenly looked panicked. He blinked a couple of times, his mind racing to encapsulate his brilliant script into a phrase, to distill it to its essence.
“Um,” he said.
“Five seconds,” Sherry said, the elevator almost to the thirty-third floor.
“Guy works at a factory that makes clocks but one of them is actually a time machine!” he blurted. He let out a long breath, then took one in.
“That’s it?” she said.
“No!” he said. “There’s more! But to try to explain it in—”
“What the hell?” Sherry said, but not to him.
The elevator had not stopped at her floor. It shot right past thirty-three, and then glided right on by thirty-four.
“Crap,” said Sneaker Girl. “That’s me.”
The two women both reached out to the panel at the same time to press the button for their floors again, their fingers engaged in a brief bit of fencing.
“Sorry,” said Sherry, who’d managed to hit the button for her floor first. She edged out of the way.
US militant group Flyovers prime suspect in Seattle coffee shop bombing that killed two.
As the elevator continued its ascent, Business Guy grimaced and said, “Guess I’ll join the club.” He put his index finger to the “37” button.
“Someone at the top must have pushed for it,” Sneaker Girl said. “It’s going all the way up first.”
She turned out to be right. The elevator did not stop until it reached the fortieth floor.
But the doors did not open. “God, I fucking hate elevators,” she said.
Stuart did not share her distress. He grinned. The elevator malfunction had bought him a few extra seconds to make his pitch to Sherry. “I know time travel has been done a lot, but this scenario is different. My hero, he doesn’t go way into the past or way into the future. He can only go five minutes one way or the other, so—”
Business Guy said, “I’ll walk back down.” He pressed the button to open the doors, but there was no response.
“Jesus,” he muttered.
Sherry said, “We should call someone.” She pointed to the button marked with the symbol of a phone.
“It’s only been a few seconds,” Stuart said. “It’ll probably sort itself out after a minute or so and—”
With a slight jolt, the elevator started moving again.
“Finally,” Sneaker Girl said.
Storm hitting UK approaching hurricane status.
“The interesting angle is,” Stuart said, persisting, “if he can only go five minutes into the past or five minutes into the future, how does he use that” Is it a kind of superpower” What kind of advantages could that give someone?”
Sherry glanced at him dismissively. “I’d have gotten on this elevator five minutes before you showed up.”
Stuart bristled at that. “You don’t have to insult me.”
“Son of a bitch,” the man said.
The descending elevator had gone past his floor. He jabbed at “37” again, more angrily this time.
The elevator sailed past the floors for the two women as well, but stopped at twenty-nine.
“Aw, come on,” Business Guy said. “This is ridiculous.” He pressed the phone button. He waited a moment, expecting a response. “Hello?” he said. “Anyone there” Hello?”
“This is freaking me out,” Sneaker Girl said, taking a cell phone from her purse. She tapped the screen, put the phone to her ear. “Yeah, hey, Steve” It’s Paula. I’m gonna be late. I’m stuck in the fucking eleva—”
There was a loud noise from above, as though the world’s largest rubber band had snapped. The elevator trembled for a second. Everyone looked up, stunned. Even Stuart, who had stopped trying to sell his idea to Sherry D’Agostino.
“Fuck!” said Sneaker Girl.
“What the hell was that?” Sherry asked.
Almost instinctively, everyone started backing up toward the walls of the elevator, leaving the center floor area open. They gripped the waist-high brass handrails.
“It’s probably nothing,” Stuart said. “A glitch, that’s all.”
“Hello?” Business Guy said again. “Is anybody there, for Christ’s sake” This elevator’s gone nuts!”
Sherry spotted the alarm button and pressed it. There was only silence.
“Shouldn’t we be hearing that?” she asked.
The man said. “Maybe it rings someplace else, you know, so someone will come. Down at the security desk, probably.”
For several seconds, no one said anything. It was dead silent in the elevator. Everyone took a few calming breaths.
Average US life expectancy now nearly 80.
Stuart spoke first. “Someone’ll be along.” He nodded with false confidence and gave Sherry a nervous smile. “Maybe this is what I should be writing a—”
The elevator began to plunge.
Within seconds it was going much faster than it was designed to go.
Stuart and Sherry and the two others felt their feet lifting off the floor.
The elevator was in free fall.

Editorial Reviews


"Read Elevator Pitch as soon as possible. It's one hell of a suspense novel." —Stephen King

"[Barclay's] best book by far. . . . As the plot moves along and another elevator goes down, readers are trapped, just like the victims, in the driving plot, which turns out to be very scarily plausible. I didn't put this book down and neither will you. I also am taking the stairs whenever I can." —The Globe and Mail

"Barclay [is] always good for a touch of cardiac arrest. . . . Chilling . . . wildly inventive and really scary." —The New York Times Book Review

"This novel moves as fast as a falling elevator and hits with just as much force. Linwood Barclay is a stone cold pro and Elevator Pitch is a shameless good time." —Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Strange Weather
"Elevator Pitch is a white-knuckle ride of a book with twists on every level." —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew
"In Elevator Pitch, [Barclay] surpasses himself with a premise suited for the big screen, a plot filled with stunning surprises?and an ending that leaves the reader greatly satisfied." —The Wall Street Journal

"A vivid story with a compelling cast of characters mixed with a truly terrifying scenario. . . . Barclay has crafted a great thriller with a surprising ending and readers will sweat a little the next time they get on an elevator." —Associated Press

"An all stops-out thriller that will keep readers' pulses pounding, particularly those of the acrophobes among us." —Booklist
"Gripping. . . .  Readers who live on high floors will glance nervously toward the nearest stairs as they tear through this exciting thriller." —Publishers Weekly
"In snappy chapters and pacy prose, Barclay has a lot of fun" —The Guardian
"Best known for noirish suburban tales, Barclay manages the switch here to metropolitan mayhem with aplomb, juggling venal big-city politics, far-right terrorism, hubristic architecture and the co-option of the media with the same confidence he brings to orchestrating his sizeable ensemble. . . . [Elevator Pitch] has all the makings of a superior disaster movie." —Sunday Times (UK)

"[Elevator Pitch] ought to be sponsored by the Department of Health as it will make most readers take the stairs instead of the lift. . . . As always, Linwood Barclay tells his story with an appealing combination of darkness and warmth." —Sunday Express (UK)
"Crammed with even more narrative twists than Barclay usually serves up." —Financial Times
"Linwood Barclay's new-found sardonicism brings out the humour that always lies within horror. . . . The twists keep coming—but it is the unexpected comedy that keeps you reading." —The Times (UK)
"Genius . . . but terrifying." —The Sun (UK)

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