Switch by Grant MckenzieSwitch by Grant Mckenzie


byGrant Mckenzie

Paperback | August 3, 2010

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How far will one man go to save the people he loves most?

Sam White is an out-of-work actor, making a living as a security guard in a shopping mall. He returns home one night to find his house blown up and two body bags being removed from it. He assumes the bodies are those of his wife and daughter, until he receives a call from a man saying they are alive, but will only be spared if Sam follows instructions and completes the increasingly violent tasks set out for him.

When he meets Zack Parker, also a victim of the kidnapper, they realize their pasts are connected, and the two of them must race against time to discover the identity of their sadistic tormentor—staying one step ahead of the police—to save their families.

Set in Portland, Oregon, featuring the spooky and labyrinthine tunnels underneath the city, this is a fantastically commercial, brilliantly paced read from a debut author.


Grant McKenzie is a Scottish-born writer living in British Columbia. He began his writing career at the Calgary Sun covering the “Dead Body Beat.” His short stories have appeared in Out of the Gutter and Spinetingler magazines. His debut novel, Switch, was published in Germany and the U.K. in 2009.
Title:SwitchFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9.01 × 6.01 × 1.13 inPublished:August 3, 2010Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143173359

ISBN - 13:9780143173359


Rated 5 out of 5 by from How Far Will One Man Go To SaveThe People He Loves Most? How far will one man go to save the people he loves most? It's an intriguing question, and one that so beautifully drives Switch by Grant McKenzie, a Scotish-born writer currently living in British Columbia. Sam White is a struggling actor just trying to move beyond small roles like embarassing television commercials while he works as a security guard at a shopping mall. One day he returns home from work to find his house blown up and two body bags being removed. Entirely devastated in assuming he has lost his wife and daughter, he receives an anonymous call from a kidnapper saying they are indeed alive and will be kept alive so long as Sam completes a series of challenging and dangerous tasks. Soon after, Sam meets Zack Packer, a businessman who is also a victim of the kidnapper with a family member in jeapardy. The two, bonded by the common goal of saving those they love the most are wonderfully brought together in circumstances where they're not entirely sure they can trust one another. And as they race through tasks and demands that become more violent and challenge their morals, they begin to slowly uncover a complex plot that uncovers links to their intertwined past. McKenzie has written a novel that races from beginning to end in a phenomenally quick manner. The writing is tight and doled out in extremely short chapter chunks. This double-impact delivery of the story moves things along at a break-neck speed and creates a thriller that is hard to put down. Switch is published in Canada by Penguin. I have to admit that the cover itself is perhaps the worst thing about this novel which I suspect won't help its chances on bookstore shelves. (Looking at the cover for the UK release, which isn't that much better but contains a nicer sort of darkness to it and a gritty "alone in a big city at night" sort of feel, I'm curious about what led to that particular cover design which seems to be drawn in the spirit of a security camera catching White in action) But I was drawn to the ARC by the premise of the story and compelled to keep reading due to McKenzie's tight prose. As a bookseller, I will certainly be putting this book into the hands of thriller-lovers, telling them to ignore the cover and just start reading the first few line of the novel for a great hook into a story that starts with a hard hit and never stops hitting hard. "Rick Ironwood staggered back from the blow, his trick knee giving out with a pop as his feet twisted sideways in a puddle of grimy engine oil." With a "regular guy caught in a terrible nightmare" scenario, reminiscent of some of the recent novels of Linwood Barclay, McKenzie has crafted a brilliantly paced thriller certain to be enjoyed and quickly consumed by thriller lovers everywhere.
Date published: 2010-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it! I read this book in 2 sittings, only because I had to work and sleep and eat :) Excellent, fast-paced sit at the edge of your seat read. Fantastic! I can't wait to read his next one!!
Date published: 2010-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Warning - you'll be up all night!! I picked up a copy of Switch and couldn't put it down. This is a gripping tale of revenge and heinous crime. The fast pace and thrilling plot kept me guessing and turning pages right to the end. If you like roller-coaster rides, heros from the guy-next-door genre, and truly evil, manical villains, this is the book for you. Grant is a Canadian author which makes it all the more wonderful. I can hardly wait for his next book.
Date published: 2010-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turning thriller! Caught up with all the Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay thrillers? Here's one you'll want to get your hands on - Switch by Grant McKenzie. Sam White has resigned himself to the fact that's he's not going to make it as an actor. But he's doing okay - he's got a house, a loving wife and beautiful daughter. The job - well he's working nights as a security guard at a mall. But hey - it pays the bills. Life is good.... until the morning he comes home to find his house bombed out and two body bags.......Reeling from the horror in front of him, he is thrown deeper into a nightmare by a phone call. The caller tells him that the bodies aren't those of his wife and daughter. If Sam does what the caller says, they'll be returned unharmed. But what the watcher wants is for Sam to jump through hoops - the tasks he sets out for him are violent. On one of the tasks he connects with Zack. He says his family has been kidnapped as well. Can Sam trust him enough to work together? Does Zack have his own agenda? What is the connection? I liked the character of Sam as an everyday guy trying to protect his family. How far would you go to protect your family? Zack made me suspicious and many times I wanted to yell at Sam - 'Don't trust him!'. But McKenzie has thrown in enough plot twists and turns that my suspicions and point of view changed with every chapter. I questioned a few too convenient occurances, but overall they did not detract from the story. Tight, fast paced prose, non stop action and a diabolical plot made Switch a one day read for me! I adore suspense thrillers and McKenzie has done a bang up job with his debut novel.
Date published: 2010-08-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This one is hard to put down really enjoy reading first novels and it adds to the enjoyment when the author is a Canadian. Switch is Grant McKenzie's first novel and it will be published in Canada in August. Two men are being terrorized by someone who has kidnapped their families. Sam is an out-of-work actor employed as a security guard and Zack is a plastic surgeon. Their lives collide when Sam's house is blown up and Zack thinks it's his family that was killed. The rest of the book is their attempt to identify the person who is holding their families while carrying out the instructions forcing them to become criminals themselves. The first few chapters are brutal. There is more swearing than I like in the book but it isn't gratuitous; it does fit the scenario and adds to the atmosphere. The chapters are short which adds to the frantic pace of the action. At times I felt like I needed to stop reading just to catch my breath. The characters are likeable and the story behind the action is great. This is story about families and what people will do to keep their family safe. It's a story about relationships; some twisted, some beautiful. It's a story about brutality and a story about love. This is a must read this summer but block off some time to read it because once you start you won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2010-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Canadian Thriller is a Jaw Dropper! Reason for Reading: The summary of this debut book by a resident Canadian had me very interested. All I can start out with is a big WOW! This is not quite my usual fare of thriller which usually consists of the serial killer variety so I was not prepared for the intense serial-ness of this book. What an incredible story that in truth could happen to anyone. As the book first started off, I was reminded of a popular Hitchcock devise of the innocent man finding himself caught up in the middle of evil doings. These are innocent men, simple men, regular Joe's who have been brought into the spider's lair to play his nasty game. He kidnaps their families and then the men must do exactly as he says, being given missions of increasing moral complexity, or else he will kill the family. As we enter the book, one man is at the end of his mission and believes that his wife and daughter have been murdered. At the same time another man has been brought into the game with the kidnapping, given the rules and his first mission. Eventually the two men meet and figure out a connection between themselves, thus trying to find a connection between them and the dead or injured, so they can figure out who hates them so much to be doing this, when they have never done anything illegal in their lives before. This book starts off running and does not stop until the end. The chapters are quite short making this a very easy book to just keep going 'one more chapter' until the wee hours of the night. The fast pace means a lot of action, while this usually means character development suffers, in this case it doesn't. McKenzie has his story revolving around a tight set of events and characters and the backstory up to that point flesh out the characters for us as do the conversations the men have and the moral choices they make as they fulfill their often deadly assignments. The narrative is for the most part in the present with the two men but ever so occasionally we are briefly taken to the kidnap victims' points of view to understand the terror they are going through and the utmost futility that they may be saved. Then again on even fewer occasions we are shown the evil mastermind's point of view, hear his rantings, and know he is very clever, though he remains a mystery. An amazingly intense read. Very scary, even though these characters do have a connection with each other, it is not a sinister one and the reader could visualize that some psycho could pick any group of people, possibly including themself, to play his sick and deadly game. This is one that hits home, uncomfortably close. How far would you go to save your family's lives? Read this one!
Date published: 2010-06-12