The Accident by Linwood Barclay

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

Glen Barber’s life has just spiralled out of control. His wife’s car is found at the scene of a drunk-driving accident that took three lives. Not only is she dead, but it appears she was the cause of the accident. Suddenly Glen has to deal with a potent mixture of emotions: grief at the loss of his wife, along with anger at her reckless behaviour that leaves their young daughter motherless. If only he could convince himself that Sheila wasn’t responsible for the tragedy. But as more and more secrets begin to surface, Glen may have to face something much, much worse…

Linwood Barclay is back with a bang and it appears there’s no stopping the Canadian author as he delivers yet another cracking thriller. When I first read Linwood Barclay, in October last year, (Never Look Away reviewed) I was mesmerised, hooked and left wondering why I hadn’t “discovered” him sooner. Now, whenever I mention Barclay’s name to people the reaction is constant “Oh he’s amazing, he’s a great author, I love his books” and although I’m only two books in to his career I’m starting to form the same adoring opinion!

The Accident is quite an insular and claustrophobic story, the majority happening within a small community where every man, woman and dog appear to be connected in one way or another! Although The Accident – an intelligent and complex narrative – had me gripped until the very end I didn’t think it was as powerful as Never Look Back, it was highly entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless.

One thing I’ve found Linwood does well is character development and The Accident is no exception. Glen Barber, a local builder employing a handful of workers, is for the most part a hard working honest man whose life changes on discovery that his wife caused a fatal accident. He struggles to come to terms with it and begrudgingly accepts that he may not have known everything about his wife, no matter how well he thought he knew her. He discovers she participated in recreational drugs, she was an alcoholic and on searching her mobile phone he finds unfamiliar numbers that make no sense whatsoever.

As the main protagonist in The Accident you’d think that Barber would carry this book but for me, although an important linchpin in the plot, there’s another Barber who stole the show – his eight year old daughter Kelly. She’s an amazing character and one you just want to wrap your protective arms around and watch her behaviour day in day out. She’s intelligent, confident and some of the scenes Barclay gives her are incredibly rewarding, certainly as far as this reader is concerned. He gives Kelly a maturity way beyond her years and yet she retains her vulnerability and youth – you really do read this book and think what it would be like to have a daughter like Kelly – quite unexpected.

I’d taken the lasagna out of the oven and it was cooling atop of the stove. Kelly inspected it, gave it a sniff.

“It’s supposed to have sauce on the top”, she said.

“Well I put cheese there instead”

She took a fork from the cutlery drawer and dug into the middle of it.

“Where’s the ricotta? Is there ricotta?”

“Ricotta?” I said.

“And you used the wrong dish to make it in,” she said “It’ll taste funny if you make it in a different dish”.

“I’m going to try it”. I shovelled some onto a plate and grabbed a fork from the drawer. Kelly took a seat to watch me, like I was a science experiment or something.

The narrative is sharp, acute and flows exceptionally well, Barclay certainly doesn’t disappoint. He develops the story at a breakneck speed and save for a couple of random plot building scenes there’s a fluidity here that builds from an incredible opening scene in New York that was both unexpected and thrilling. As you would expect, the opening salvos are explained further down the line and the importance of this solitudinous act becomes clear. Despite its multi layered plot, Barclay somehow manages to keep tight control of the prose delivering a satisfying and expeditious read. I sat back on numerous occasions wondering how he’d managed to tie certain events together ensuring no stone was unturned but it’s all about the small details and there are few authors who can blend arcs like Linwood Barclay.

Published by Orion The Accident is available in Hardcover & Kindle

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2 Responses to “The Accident by Linwood Barclay – Book Review”

  1. Nikki-ann says:

    I have yet to read Linwood Barclay, but I’ll definitely add this book to my wishlist.

  2. Ilaria says:

    I just found this review Miles – I had read a sample chapter and was hooked, I can’t wait to read it!

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