A camera's-eye view shows more than we may be prepared to see in this innovative thriller.
Debut novelist Wohlsdorf uses a clever low-tech technique—splitting pages into two or three columns of text—to show simultaneous action as it’s recorded by cameras in different sections of the Manderley Resort. The new hotel promises to raise the bar where security is concerned, but staff members are being murdered at an alarming rate and threatening to ruin the grand opening (and the marble floors) with their trailing organs. Manager Tessa is oblivious to this, her sole concern being that things run smoothly, until a body practically lands on her. It's uncertain at first whether the killings are being carried out to send her a message and who (or what) is narrating the story; that's the book's big reveal, and it's worth the wait. If the bodies stacking up like cordwood distract a bit from personal revelations about Tessa and a figure from her past, no matter—the real thrills here are the clues as to what's going on, which are doled out with precision, as well as the dark humor in some of the killers' methods. Almost nobody in this story runs the risk of dreaming again of Manderley; the vast majority take the big sleep before the curtain falls, in increasingly gory ways that nevertheless play out with farcical timing. The resolution stretches credibility, but by then the adrenaline is pumping so hard it hardly matters. A fight to the death next to a tower of champagne flutes is a central scene here, and it perfectly shows how intensity and frivolity continually skirt one another under the eyes of watching cameras.
This horror story with a humorous edge casts video surveillance as both hero and villain and raises plentiful goose bumps as a result.