Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Manderley Resort is a gleaming, new twenty-story hotel on the California coast. It’s about to open its doors, and the world–at least those with the means to afford it–will be welcomed into a palace of opulence and unparalleled security. But someone is determined that Manderley will never open. The staff has no idea that their every move is being watched, and over the next twelve hours they will be killed off, one by one.
Security is one of those books that while not perfect, is so different from everything else out there that you wind up loving it anyway. So, let’s get the bad out of the way first. My main criticism is over the formatting of the e-ARC. The book is narrated by someone unknown (for most of the story), who’s watching what’s happening in the hotel from multiple security cameras. While this is a very clever gimmick, the constant flipping of the different scenes leads to sentences being cut off abruptly or beginning midway through. For example:
“The Thinker solitaire, and the Killer is–again–sitting on the is–still–playing–bed in room 717.”
Needless to say this made reading a bit of a challenge sometimes. The other issue I had was the repetitiveness of some of the scenes. We see (through the eyes of the omniscient narrator via the cameras), the hotel workers as they go about their duties using the stairs or the slow moving main elevator. After the first few times whenever a character entered the elevator or stairwell, I felt like banging my Kindle against my head. The Manderly has security cameras all over the place, including the majority of rooms. I think the story would have been better served if some of those had been explored more instead of relegating most of the action to a few places. And finally, the author threw in this unusual romance between Tessa (the hotel manager) and a former foster brother. Since they’re not related I didn’t really find this particularly creepy, it’s almost added in as an afterthought and doesn’t really do anything to further the story. Gina Wohlsdorf includes elements many other horror stories, including secret passages, sinister hedge mazes, and the eerily slow moving glass elevator which makes the story even more enjoyable. The name of the hotel itself pays homage to Daphne du Maurier. For all the jumping back and forth between characters, you still get a real sense of who they are, even the villains. And the mystery itself regarding the two killers and who hired them is deliciously tantalizing. Adding to the mystery is the identity and motives of the narrator, which keeps you guessing until right near the very end. I’m going to be honest and say most of what happens in the book is extremely implausible starting with the question of why, if the killers want to wipe out all the staff, who are unarmed, why not gather them all in one place? But this is just a story where you put those questions away and just have fun with the gory mayhem and dark humor that ensues. Security is an unapologetic slasher story, that makes no pretensions to higher literary fiction and never takes itself seriously. At under 300 pages it’s a quick read that had me finishing in one sitting. I would recommend buying this in print because I think the unusual formatting would be easier to read, but other than that, if you’re looking for an entertaining beach read, and you’re an unabashed enthusiast of slasher flicks, please try this. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.