Fear The Worst

Paperback | May 13, 2009

byBarclay Linwood

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Seventeen-year-old Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim is a bit alarmed. However, that alarm turns to full-on panic after he visits the Just Inn Time hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. Grilling his daughter’s friends for clues leads Tim nowhere — except to threats against his life — and as he frantically chases every lead, he can’t help but wonder if Syd is even still alive. Despite a growing list of unanswered questions, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter — no matter how high the stakes become.

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From the Publisher

Seventeen-year-old Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim is a bit alarmed. However, that alarm turns to full-on panic after he visits the Just Inn Time ...

From the Jacket

Praise for Too Close to Home:“Barclay’s latest and best thriller.” — The Globe and Mail“A terrifically fast-paced suspense story.” — The Washington PostPraise for No Time for Goodbye:“A straight-faced page turner.”— Toronto Star“An anxiety-inducing thriller.”— USA Today

Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star and the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including Too Close to Home and No Time for Goodbye, a #1 Sunday Times (UK) bestseller. He lives near Toronto with his wife.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.55 × 6.15 × 1.35 inPublished:May 13, 2009Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385668023

ISBN - 13:9780385668026

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh - Take it or Leave It The novel touched on some interesting topics that are getting more and more attention in the media. The characters were ok but the stroy was predictable. Most of the twists and turns I saw coming form a mile based on some well laid hints in earlier parts of the story. Where the book suffers is Barclay's insistence in trying to end on a happy note and wrap up issues larger than the novel. Despite that i would still reccomend it to a friend looking for a fast read on a rainy weekend.
Date published: 2014-03-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from More Mystery than Thriller This review was originally posted on my book review blog Blood Rose Books (http://j9books.blogspot.com) Linwood Barclay is an author known for his thrillers, and here Barclay delivers the mystery of a missing girl who no one seems to be able to explain why she is gone. Tim is just an average guy, he sells Hondas during the day and takes care of his teenage daughter Sydney at night and he kind of gets along with his ex-wife’s boyfriend and his son Evan (even though he does not like the idea of Sydney and Evan living under the same roof). Things are peaceful and getting back to normal after the divorce. Then one day Sydney vanishes into thin air, there is nothing to say that she was abducted or just decided to run away, the trail is cold. Tim refuses to believe that Sydney would just disappear and spends most of his days and nights searching for his daughter, unaware that there is something more going on in his town, events and practices that people will kill to make sure they never comes to light. I had really high expectations for this author, and maybe it is part of the hype that has surrounded him or even on the cover where it stated that Barclay was Canada’s best thriller author but I personally think that Barclay did not deliver as well as I wanted him to. The book is well written and has a good flow, despite the fact that I found there were points within the book that were slow. Approximately the first half of this book is very slow and it took about 250 pages for things to get interesting and have the plot begin to move along and the last 100 pages get really really interesting as everything comes to light. However, due to the fact that it took 250 pages to get me invested in this book I could see some readers putting the book down. I will say that Barclay knows how to do mystery, I am not too sure about the thriller part (I never felt like I was on the edge of my seat while reading this book), but mystery is where Barclay excelled in this book. I was really intrigued about why Sydney was missing and whether it was on her own accord or if she was abducted. I think that Barclay does a good job of keeping the reader guessing as to what clue will be uncovered next in Tim's search for Sydney. However, a few of the clues or leads that were a bit predictable or went in the direction I thought they would and you have to wait for Tim to catch up. Nonetheless, Barclay did a good job of having Tim discover false or misleading information that kept Tim and reader guessing. Additionally, as you continue to read you realize that there is more than one mystery that is unfolding with the information that Tim is able to obtain and you have no idea how everything is going to intersect till the end. Tim overall was an interesting character. You can feel his struggle to keep going on his search for Sydney even when there are no clues for him to follow. The constant midnight drives just searching for her, but knowing that he has to get up to work the next day to keep paying the bills so that Sydney will have a home to come back to. I think the best way to describe Tim is a dog with a bone; you just cannot take that type of drive away from a person who is willing to keep searching no matter what. Tim also develops new characteristics throughout the book and does things that he would question in any other circumstance, but this is about finding his daughter and he will do anything to achieve that. I think how Tim develops and changes throughout the book were realistic and part of his own personal survival instinct. I thought this book was going to be a thriller, but I found for the most part it lacked the thrills I wanted. However, Barclay knows how to write a mystery novel, so I am not quite ready to write this book off yet. I think I will check out another Barclay book to see if it has more of the thriller feel to it. Let me know if there are any that you would recommend. Enjoy!!!
Date published: 2013-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow...... what excitement, your mind wanders along with this book....could it happen to you ? Your imagination twists and turns with this story.....keeps you guessing right to the end !
Date published: 2012-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good suspense book Tim Blakes' daughter goes off to her summer job to never come home...she vanishes. Tim goes to the hotel she said she had been working at but no one has ever heard of her. This is where Barclay addresses every parent's worse nightmare...the disappearance of their child. The plot is full of twists and turns that you don't see coming. This is a good suspense book from the beginnng to the end.
Date published: 2011-02-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Fear the worst indeed, because this book SUCKS I bought this on the cusp of a long weekend, wanting a quick thriller. What a waste of 10 dollars, time, and eyesight. Stiffly drawn characters, cliched plot turns, terrible writing. Linwood Barclay should retire his quill pen for good. Yuck!
Date published: 2010-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good some really good part, some slow part
Date published: 2010-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great book by Barclay Once again Linwood made another great book....it was a good, quick read. Once I read his book Too Close to home...I went out and bought all his books and have read all of them, and they all have a great story line and humour that no other author can do!!!
Date published: 2009-10-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Disappointment This is the second book that I have read by this Author. I did not enjoy the first one, and the same fate beholds this title. I wanted to enjoy this book, and I am proud of the Author being Canadian - but the writing is just too stilled for me. The movement too broken, and I never felt for the characters. No concern of their plight formed for me. I was so very excited to begin reading this title and I struggled to finish.
Date published: 2009-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gone, gone, gone, she's been gone so long. The simplest praise I can give this title: I read it in one sitting and that's something I haven't done in a long time. This is my first Linwood Barclay title and he had been recommended to me in the past. Based on this title, I'm seriously considering going back and reading his previous works. He does a wonderful job of ratcheting up the tension, and of making us feel the main character's pain. Not only has his daughter gone missing, but the places she said she has been going have never heard of her. And worse, the police quickly convince themselves that the father is to blame. This was a great read, one you won't be able to put down.
Date published: 2009-09-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tight, Taut, Suspense Reason for Reading: Last year I read and enjoyed Barclay's Too Close to Home so much I just had to read his newest book. Comments: One day Tim Blake's 17yo daughter Syd goes off to work her summer job as per usual but she doesn't come home. Since they had a spat that morning he gives her some leeway thinking she's angry and not calling to say she's working late but once plenty of time has gone by he drops by the hotel she's been working at all summer to find out that they've never heard of her, she hasn't worked there at all. And thus begins the worst journey of Tim's life as he searches for his missing duahter finding out about a dark and dangerous world he'd never known existed and also finding out that the police are not always on your side. Wonderful book. First, a very different type of story than Too Close to Home, which is closer to my usual murder mystery genre. This one would be classified more as a suspense and I could very much see it as a being made into a movie. The plot isn't exactly fast-paced as it is pretty much one theme all along, the search for Sydney, or rather the chase. However, there is so much action happening all the time that the book does move along at a fast past. The twists and turns and reveals that are thrown regularly at the reader at any point in the story keeps the suspense and tension high, as one doesn't know what is going to happen next or who is not really whom they seem to be. From the two books I've read, I'm seeing this as Barclay's forte as an author. I look forward to reading more of his books. I enjoy Barclay's writing. He keeps a tight, taut thriller with plenty of possible chances for the reader to figure it out but with all the twists from start to finish you'll be lucky to completely solve the intricate plot on your own. I had my eye on a suspect from the beginning but what they were guilty of I hadn't a clue, I was right in the end, but not very proud of simply picking out a guilty person. The only thing I'm not pleased with is the ending. The mystery plot itself is wrapped up nicely but it ends with the characters and it's a "what the?" ending. It's very abrupt and seeing as where the characters' plot was going, disappointing. Not a nice note, for me at least, to end a book on. If you've read the book you'll know what I mean. If you haven't don't let that stop you reading the book. Books don't always have "happily ever after" endings and this one is worth the ride. Looking forward to dipping into Barclay's backlist and hopefully a new book in the new year (2010)!
Date published: 2009-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You won't be able to put it down... It's the kind of cover that grabs me, there's a Steve Berry blurb, but it's the new Linwood Barclay from Random House Canada and I don't need to be 'sold' on him - I just know I'm in for a fantastic, suspense filled read! How could you not be hooked by the opening line? "The morning of the day I lost her, my daughter asked me to scramble here some eggs." Tim Blake is a divorced car salesman. He is thrilled that his teenage daughter Sydney will be living with him for the summer. She's working at a local hotel. Or so he thought....When Syd is late for supper one night, he decides to pick her up from work. It's the first time he's seen where she works. Or doesn't work.....No one at the hotel has ever heard of her. Where has she been going every day? Where is she now? Every parent's nightmare - she has vanished into thin air. While Tim is frantically searches for Syd, so are others....but not for the same reasons. Barclay is back with yet another page turner in Fear the Worst, that kept me up all night, reading 'just one more chapter', until I fell asleep with the lights on. The plot is full of twists and turns that you don't see coming. Lots of red herrings and an abrupt ending I didn't predict. Tim is an everyday guy thrust into a nightmare. He is likable, funny and believable as an anguished father. We get to know bits and pieces of Syd's life through her friends, mother and stepfather, but the driving question remains - where is Syd? If you're looking for a fast paced, hugely entertaining thriller, this is the book for you. Actually Linwood Barclay is the author for you. Every one of this Canadian author's books have been winners for me!
Date published: 2009-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fear Picking This Book Up Barclay has done it again -- he has written a tight, well crafted tale of suspense out of a seemingly every day occurance gone wrong. The reason the title for this review is "fear picking this book up" is because of it's un-put-downable nature. It is so well written that I had trouble actually finding a spot to stop reading. Barclay is a master at throwing an average everyday type person into the role of crime-solver, allowing the reader to feel a closer connection to them. Not everyone can be a top notch criminal investigator, but many readers will be able to relate to Tim Blake, car salesman whose daughter disappears one day. Barclay addresses every parent's worst fear wonderfully in this fantastic thrill-ride story. And as he has done in his previous novels, he unravels some fun and interesting twists and turns
Date published: 2009-08-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thrilling page turner! The book starts off with Tim Blake, a normal average car salesman who finds out his daughter is missing. When he goes where she's currently employed to ask if they might have seen her, he finds out they haven't even heard of her. In turn, this opens up a huge can of worms as Tim is set off on a wild goose chase that's filled with more twists and turns I have ever seen in a book. I liked how the main protagonist is a simple car salesman. We don't get very "normal average every day" people as the ones who are caught up in this sort of dilemma. It's a nice refresher and gives you a break from other stories which always include either a detective, a member of the police, or even a member of the military. It gives the plot an overall realistic flavour to it. However wrong it is, a lot of teenagers and children are missing everyday and we don't usually see it from the parent's point of view. My heart went out for Tim. I don't know how it feel like to be a parent but sometimes on my evil juvenile days I used to make my parents worry a lot and they would probably feel like Tim did. There were times in the book where his acts of desperation in finding his daughter just makes your heart want to sink. He's not exactly a character you would like or dislike, but he's someone you would cheer for until the end. I don't have many criticisms for this book. I just advise if you are going to read this, pay very close attention. :) The book has plenty of twists and turns and throughout the book you find everybody has a dirty little secret and as you follow Tim you eventually figure them out. I actually liked that, as some of their secrets are related to the disappearance of his daughter. Some weren't but it was just interesting to know anyway. The ending was something I did not expect. I was already putting the blame on whoever was coming along but afterwards when it all sinks in it's rather shocking and almost..creepy. I just like it how it all started with one huge large difficult puzzle and the pieces just fit together nicely in the end. It's a great book if you're into twists and turns and unexpected finds.
Date published: 2009-08-14

Extra Content

Read from the Book

PROLOGUEThe morning of the day I lost her, my daughter asked me to scramble her some eggs.“Want bacon with it?” I shouted up to the second floor, where she was still getting ready for work.“No,” Sydney called down from the bathroom.“Toast?” I asked.“No,” she said. I heard a clapping noise. The hair straightener. That noise usually signaled she was nearing the end of her morning routine.“Cheese in the eggs?”“No,” she said. Then, “A little?”I went back into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and took out eggs, a block of cheddar, and orange juice. I put a filter into the coffeemaker, spooned in some coffee, poured in four cups of water, and hit the button.Syd’s mother Susanne, my ex, who’d recently moved in with her boyfriend Bob on the other side of the river in Stratford, would probably say I was spoiling her, that our daughter was old enough at seventeen to be able to make her own breakfast. But it was such a treat to have her stay with me for the summer I didn’t mind pampering her. Last year I’d found her a job at the Honda dealership where I work, just this side of that same river here in Milford. While there were moments when we wanted to kill each other, overall it had been a pretty good experience sharing digs. This year, however, Sydney had opted not to work at the dealership. Living with me was enough. Having me keep an eye on her while she worked was something else again.“Have you noticed,” she’d asked me last year, “that every guy around here I talk to, even for a minute, you tell me something bad about him?”“It’s good to be forewarned,” I’d said.“What about Dwayne, in Service?” she’d said. “His rag was too oily?”“Sign of bad character,” I’d said.“And Andy?”“You’re joking,” I’d said. “Way too old. Mid-twenties.”So this year she’d found a different job, but still here in Milford, so she could live with me from June through Labor Day. She’d gotten herself hired at the Just Inn Time, a hotel that catered to business travelers only looking to stay a night or two. Milford’s a nice place, but it’s not exactly a tourist destination. The hotel had been a Days Inn or a Holiday Inn or a Comfort Inn in a previous life, but whichever conglomerate had owned it, they’d bailed, and an independent had come in.I wasn’t surprised when Sydney told me they’d put her on the front desk. “You’re bright, charming, courteous–”“I’m also one of the few there who speaks English,” she’d countered, putting her proud father in his place.It was like pulling teeth, getting her to talk about the new job. “It’s just work,” she’d say. Three days into it I heard her arguing on the phone with her friend Patty Swain, saying she was going to look for something else, even if she was making good money, since no income tax was being taken out.“This is off the books?” I said when she got off the phone. “You’re getting paid under the table?”Sydney said, “You always listen to my phone calls?”So I backed off. Let her solve her own problems.I waited until I heard her coming down the stairs before I poured the two scrambled eggs, a few shavings of grated cheddar mixed in, into the buttered frying pan. It had occurred to me to do something I hadn’t done for Sydney since she was a little girl. I took half of the eggshell I’d just cracked and, using a soft pencil from the cutlery drawer, drew a face on it. A toothy grin, a half circle for a nose, and two menacing-looking eyes. I drew a line from the mouth to the back side of the shell, where I printed, “Smile, damn it.”She shuffled into the kitchen like a condemned prisoner and plopped into her chair, looking down into her lap, hair hanging down over her eyes, arms lifeless at her sides. She had a pair of oversized sunglasses I didn’t recognize perched on her head.The eggs firmed up in seconds. I slipped them onto a plate and set them before her.“Your Highness,” I said, talking over the sounds of the Today show coming from the small television that hung beneath the cabinet.Sydney lifted her head slowly, looking first at the plate, but then her eyes caught the little Humpty Dumpty character staring at her from atop the saltshaker.“Oh my God,” she said, bringing up a hand and turning the shaker so she could read what was on the egg’s back side. “Smile yourself,” she said, but there was something bordering on playful in her voice.“New shades?” I asked.Absently, like she’d forgotten she’d just put them there, she touched one of the arms, made a minor adjustment.“Yeah,” she said.I noticed the word Versace printed in very tiny letters on the glasses. “Very nice,” I said.Syd nodded tiredly.“Out late?” I asked.“Not that late,” she said.“Midnight’s late,” I said.She knew there was no point denying when she got in. I never got to sleep until I heard her come into our house on Hill Street and lock the door behind her. I guessed she’d been out with Patty Swain, who was also seventeen, but gave off a vibe that she was a little more experienced than Syd with the kinds of things that kept fathers up at night. I’d have been naive to think Patty Swain didn’t already know about drinking, sex, and drugs.But Syd wasn’t exactly an angel. I’d caught her with pot once, and there was that time, a couple years back, when she was fifteen, when she came home from the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Stamford with a new T-shirt, and couldn’t explain to her mother why she had no receipt. Big fireworks over that one.Maybe that’s why the sunglasses were niggling at me.“What those set you back?” I asked.“Not that much,” she said.“How’s Patty?” I asked, not so much to find out how she was as to confirm Syd had been with her. They’d been friends only a year or so, but they’d spent so much time together it was as if their friendship went back to kindergarten. I liked Patty — she had a directness that was refreshing — but there were times I wished Syd hung out with her a little less.“She’s cool,” Syd said.On the TV, Matt Lauer was warning about possibly radioactive granite countertops. Every day, something new to worry about.Syd dug into her eggs. “Mmm,” she said. She glanced up at the TV. “Bob,” she said.I looked. One of the ad spots from the local affiliate. A tall, balding man with a broad smile and perfect teeth standing in front of a sea of cars, arms outstretched, like Moses parting the Red Sea.“Run, don’t walk, into Bob’s Motors! Don’t have a trade? That’s okay! Don’t have a down payment? That’s okay! Don’t have a driver’s license? Okay, that’s a problem! But if you’re looking for a car, and you’re looking for a good deal, get on down to one of our three loca—”I hit the mute button.“He is a bit of a douche,” Syd said of the man her mother, my ex, lived with. “But those commercials turn him into Superdouche. What are we having tonight?” Breakfast was never complete without a discussion of what we might be eating at the end of the day. “How about D.A.D.?”Family code for “dial a dinner.”Before I could answer, she said, “Pizza?”“I think I’ll make something,” I said. Syd made no attempt to hide her disappointment.Last summer, when Syd and I were both working at the same place and she was riding in with me, Susanne and I had agreed to get her a car for nipping around Milford and Stratford. I took in a seven-year-old Civic with low miles on a trade and snatched it up for a couple thou before it hit our used-car lot. It had a bit of rust around the fender wells, but was otherwise roadworthy.“No spoiler?” Syd cracked when it was presented to her.“Shut up,” I said and handed her the keys.Only once since she’d gotten this new job had I dropped her off at work. The Civic was in for a rusted-out tailpipe. So I drove her up Route 1, what I still thought of as the Boston Post Road, the Just Inn Time looming in the distance, a bleak, gray, featureless block on the horizon, looking like an apartment complex in some Soviet satellite country.I was prepared to drive her to the door, but she had me drop her off at the sidewalk, near a bus stop. “I’ll be here at the end of the day,” she said.Bob’s commercial over, I put the sound back on. Al Roker was outside mingling with the Rockefeller Center crowd, most of them waving signs offering birthday greetings to relatives back home.I looked at my daughter, eating her breakfast. Part of being a father, at least for me, is being perpetually proud. I took in what a beautiful young woman Syd was turning into. Blonde hair down to her shoulders, a long graceful neck, porcelain skin, strong facial features. Her mother’s roots go back to Norway, which accounts for her Nordic air.As if sensing my eyes on her, she said, “You think I could be a model?”“A model?” I glanced over.“Don’t sound so shocked,” she said.“I’m not,” I said defensively. “I just never heard you talk about it before.”“I never really thought about it. It’s Bob’s idea.”I felt my face go hot. Bob encouraging Syd to model? He was in his early forties, like me. Now he had my wife and — more often than I liked — my daughter living under his roof, in his fancy five-bedroom house with pool and three-car garage, and he was pushing her to model? What the fuck kind of modeling? Pinup stuff? Webcam porn to order? Was he offering to take the shots himself?“Bob said this?” I asked.“He says I’d be a natural. That I should be in one of his commercials.”Hard to pick which would be more demeaning. Penthouse or hawking Bob’s used cars.“What? You think he’s wrong?”“He’s out of line,” I said.“He’s not a perv or anything,” she said. “A douche, yes, but a perv, no. Mom and Evan even kind of agreed with him.”“Evan?”Now I was really getting steamed. Evan was Bob’s nineteen-year-old son. He had been living most of the time with his mother, Bob’s ex-wife, but now she was off to Europe for three months, so Evan had moved in with his dad. This meant he was now sleeping down the hall from Syd, who, by the way, liked her new bedroom very much and had pointed out several times that it was twice the size of the one she had in my house.We’d had a bigger house, once.The idea of some horny teenage boy living under the same roof with Syd had pissed me off from the get-go. I was surprised Susanne was going along with it, but once you moved out of your own house and into someone else’s, you lost a bit of leverage. What could she do? Make her boyfriend kick his own son out?“Yeah, Evan,” Sydney said. “He was just commenting, is all.”“He shouldn’t even be living there.”“Jesus, Dad, do we have to get into this again?”“A boy, a nineteen-year-old boy, unless he’s your actual brother, shouldn’t be living with you.”I thought I saw her cheeks flush. “It’s not a big deal.”“Your mother’s cool with this? Bob and his boy telling you to be the next Cindy Crawford?”“Cindy who?”“Crawford,” I said. “She was — never mind. Your mom’s okay with this?”“She’s not having a shit fit like you,” Syd said, shooting me a look. “And besides, Evan’s helping her since the thing.”The thing. Susanne’s parasailing accident in Long Island Sound. Came down too fast, did something to her hip, twisted her knee out of shape. Bob, behind the wheel of his boat, dragged her a hundred yards before he knew something was wrong, the dumb fuck. Susanne didn’t have to worry about parasailing accidents when she was with me. I didn’t have a boat.“You never said what you paid for the shades,” I said.Sydney sighed. “It wasn’t that much.” She was looking at several unopened envelopes by the phone. “You should really open your bills, Dad. They’ve been there like three days.”“Don’t you worry about the bills. I can pay the bills.”“Mom says it’s not that you don’t have the money to pay them, you just aren’t very organized, so then you’re late—”“The sunglasses. Where’d you get them?”“Jesus, what’s the deal about a pair of sunglasses?”“I’m just curious, is all,” I said. “Get them at the mall?”“Yeah, I got them at the mall. Fifty percent off.”“Did you save your receipt? In case they break or something?”Her eyes bored into me. “Why don’t you just ask me to show you the receipt?”“Why would I do that?”“Because you think I stole them.”“I never said that.”“It was two years ago, Dad. I don’t believe you.” She pushed her eggs away, unfinished.“You come down here in Versace sunglasses, you think I’m not going to ask questions?”She got up and stomped back upstairs.“Shit,” I said under my breath. Nicely played.I had to finish getting ready to go to work myself, and heard her run down the stairs while I was in my bedroom. I caught her coming out of the kitchen with a bottled water as I came down to say goodbye before she headed out to the Civic.“Being with you for the summer is going to suck if you’re going to be like this all the time,” she said. “And it’s not my fault I’m living with Evan.”“I know, it’s just–”“I gotta go,” she said, walking away and getting into her car. She had her eyes fixed on the road as she drove away, and didn’t see me wave.In the kitchen was the receipt for the sunglasses, right next to the eggshell character she’d flattened with her fist.I got into my CR-V and headed to Riverside Honda. We were just this side of the bridge that crosses over into Stratford, where the Housatonic empties into the Sound. It was a slow morning, not enough people dropping in for my turn to come up in the rotation, but shortly after noon a retired couple in their late sixties dropped by to look at a base model four-door Accord.They were hemming and hawing over price — we were seven hundred dollars apart. I excused myself, said I was going to take their latest offer to the sales manager, but instead went into Service and scarfed a chocolate donut from a box at the coffee stand, then went back and told them I could only save them another hundred, but we were going to have a custom pinstriper on site over the next couple of days, and if they took the deal, I could get the Accord custom-pinstriped for free. The guy’s eyes lit up, and they went for it. Later, I got a ten-buck pinstriping kit from Parts and attached it to the order.In the afternoon, a man interested in replacing his decade-old Odyssey van with a new one wanted to know how much his trade was worth. You never answered that question without asking a few of your own.“Are you the original owner?” I asked. He was. “Have you maintained the car?” He said he’d done most of the recommended services. “Has the vehicle ever been in an accident?”“Oh yeah,” he volunteered. “Three years ago I rear-ended a guy, they had to replace everything up front.”I explained that an accident translated into a much lower trade-in value. His counter-argument was that all the parts in the front of the car were newer, so if anything, the car should be worth more. He wasn’t happy with the number I gave him, and left.Twice I called my ex-wife in Stratford, where she worked at one of the car lots Bob owned, and twice I left messages, both asking how thrilled she was with Bob’s plan to immortalize our daughter on a bathroom calendar at the local Goodyear tire store.After the second call, my head cleared some, and I realized this wasn’t just about Sydney. It was about Susanne, about Bob, about how much better her life was with him, about how much I’d screwed things up.I’d been selling cars since I was twenty, and I was good at it, but Susanne thought I was capable of more. You shouldn’t be working for somebody else, she said. You should be your own man. You should have your own dealership. We could change our lives. Send Syd to the best schools. Make a better future for ourselves.My dad had passed away when I was nineteen, and left my mother pretty well fixed. A few years later, when she died of a heart attack, I used the inheritance to show Susanne I could be the man she wanted me to be. I started up my own dealership.And fucked the whole thing up.I was never a big-picture guy. Sales, working one-to-one, that was my thing. But when I had to run the whole show, I kept sneaking back onto the floor to deal with customers. I wasn’t cut out for management, so I let others make decisions for me. Bad ones, as it turned out. Let them steal from me, too.Eventually, I lost it all.And not just the business, not just our big house that overlooked the Sound. I lost my family.Susanne blamed me for taking my eye off the ball. I blamed her for pushing me into something I wasn’t cut out for.Syd, somehow, blamed herself. She figured that, if we loved her enough, we’d stay together no matter what. The fact that we didn’t had nothing to do with how much we loved Syd, but she wasn’t buying it.In Bob, Susanne found what was missing in me. Bob was always reaching for the next rung. Bob figured if he could sell cars, he could start up a dealership, and if he could start up one dealership, why not two, or three?I never bought Susanne a Corvette when I was going out with her, like Bob did. At least there was some satisfaction when it blew a piston, and she ended up getting rid of it because she hated driving a stick.On this particular day, I went home, somewhat reluctantly, at six. When you’re on commission, you don’t want to walk out of an open showroom. You know, the moment you leave, someone’ll come in, checkbook in hand, asking for you. But you can’t live there. You have to go home sometime.I’d been planning to make spaghetti, but figured, what the hell, I’d order pizza, just like Syd wanted. It’d be a kind of peace offering, a way to make up for the sunglasses thing.By seven, she had not shown up, or called to let me know she’d be late.Maybe someone had gone home sick, and she’d had to stay on the front desk for an extra shift. Ordinarily, if she wasn’t going to make it home in time for dinner, she’d call. But I could see her skipping that courtesy today, after what had happened at breakfast.Still, by eight, when I hadn’t heard from her, I started to worry.I was standing in the kitchen, watching CNN, getting updated on some earthquake in Asia but not really paying attention, wondering where the hell she was.Sometimes she got together with Patty or one of her other friends after work, went over to the Post Mall to eat in the food court.I called her cell. It rang several times before going to message. “Give me a call, sweetheart,” I said. “I figured we’d have pizza after all. Let me know what you want on it.”I gave it another ten minutes before deciding to find a number for the hotel where she worked. I was about to make the call when the phone rang. I grabbed the receiver before I’d checked the ID. “Hey,” I said. “You in for pizza or what?”“Just hold the anchovies.” It wasn’t Syd. It was Susanne.“Oh,” I said. “Hey.”“You’ve got your shorts in a knot.”I took a breath. “What I don’t get is why you don’t. Bob and Evan giving Syd the eyeball? Thinking she should model?”“You’ve got it all wrong, Tim,” Susanne said. “They were just being nice.”“Did you know when you moved in there with Sydney that Bob was taking his son in? That okay with you?”“They’re like brother and sister,” she said.“Give me a break. I remember being nineteen and—” The line beeped. “Look, I gotta go. Later, okay?”Susanne managed a “Yeah” before hanging up. I went to the other line, said, “Hello?”“Mr. Blake?” said a woman who was not my daughter.“Yes?”“Timothy Blake?”“Yes?”“I’m with Fairfield Windows and Doors and we’re going to be in your area later this—”I hung up. I found a number for the Just Inn Time, dialed it. I let it ring twenty times before hanging up.I grabbed my jacket and keys and drove across town to the hotel, pulled right up under the canopy by the front door, and went inside for the first time since Syd had started here a couple of weeks ago. Before heading in, I scanned the lot for her Civic. I’d seen it the odd time I’d driven by since she’d started, but it wasn’t there tonight. Maybe she’d parked out back.The glass doors parted before me as I strode into the lobby. As I approached the desk, I hoped I would see Syd, but there was a man there instead. A young guy, late twenties maybe, dirty blond hair, his face cratered by the ravages of acne a decade earlier. “May I help you?” he asked. His name tag read “Owen.”“Yeah,” I said. “I was just looking for Syd.”“I’m sorry. What’s his last name?”“It’s a she. Sydney. She’s my daughter.”“Do you know what room she’s staying in?”“No, no,” I said, shaking my head. “She works here. Right here on the desk, actually. I was expecting her home for dinner, just thought I’d swing by and see if she was going to be working a double or something.”“I see,” said Owen.“Her name’s Sydney Blake,” I said. “You must know her.”Owen shook his head. “I don’t think so.”“Are you new here?” I asked.“No. Well, yeah.” He grinned. “Six months. I guess that’s new.”“Sydney Blake,” I repeated. “She’s been working here two weeks. Seventeen, blonde hair.”Owen shook his head.“Maybe they’ve got her working someplace else this week,” I suggested. “Do you have an employee roster or a schedule or something that would tell you where I could find her? Or maybe I could just leave a message?”“Could you wait just a moment?” Owen asked. “I’ll get the duty manager.”Owen slipped through a door behind the front desk, returning a moment later with a lean, good-looking, dark-haired man in his early forties. His name tag read “Carter,” and when he spoke I pegged him as from the South, although what state I couldn’t guess.“Can I help you?” he asked.“I’m looking for my daughter,” I said. “She works here.”“What’s her name?”“Sydney Blake,” I said. “Syd.”“Sydney Blake?” he said. “Don’t recognize that name at all.”I shook my head. “She’s only been here a couple of weeks. She’s just working here for the summer.”Carter was shaking his head, too. “I’m sorry.”I felt my heart beating more quickly. “Check your employee list,” I urged him.“I don’t need to be checking any list,” he said. “I know who works here and who doesn’t, and there’s nobody here by that name.”“Hang on,” I said. I dug out my wallet, fished around in a crevice behind my credit cards, and found a three-year-old high school photo of Sydney. I handed it across the desk.“It’s not real recent,” I said. “But that’s her.”They took turns studying the picture. Owen’s eyebrows popped up briefly, impressed, I guessed, by Sydney’s good looks. Carter handed it back to me.“I’m real sorry, Mr.—”“Blake. Tim Blake.”“She might be working at the Howard Johnson’s up the road a bit.” He tipped his head to the right.“No,” I said. “This is where she said she works.” My mind was racing. “Is there a day manager?”“That’d be Veronica.”“Call her. Call Veronica.”With great reluctance, Carter placed the call, apologized to the woman on the other end of the line, and handed me the receiver.I explained my situation to Veronica.“Maybe she told you the wrong hotel,” Veronica said, echoing Carter.“No,” I said firmly.Veronica asked for my number and promised to call me if she heard anything. And then she hung up.On the way home, I went through two red lights and nearly hit a guy in a Toyota Yaris. I had my cell in my hand, phoning Syd’s cell and then home, then her cell again.When I got back to the house, it was empty.Syd did not come home that night.Or the next night.Or the night after that.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Too Close to Home:
“Barclay’s latest and best thriller.”
The Globe and Mail

“A terrifically fast-paced suspense story.”
The Washington Post

Praise for No Time for Goodbye:
“A straight-faced page turner.”
Toronto Star

“An anxiety-inducing thriller.”
USA Today