Principal Linda MacDonald wants Career Day at Gaudalupe Middle School to be memorable. But as she frets over the language of her introductory speech, little does she know what will unfold on this day and how truly memorable it will be for herself, the students and the participants.
Laurie R. King’s Lockdown bills itself as a novel of suspense. And like a film by Alfred Hitchcock, King gets us to invest in her characters to help build and ratchet up the tension until it finally reaches a boiling point. And when it does, King not only earns the payoff, but has a few well foreshadowed surprises for readers as well.
Alternating between multiple viewpoints and characters, King invests the world of Gaudalupe Middle School with several potential scenarios, slowly building to the (seemingly) inevitable outcome and the lockdown of the title. Leading up to an event that is taken from today’s headlines, King gives readers multiple options of who and what might be the trigger for the events of Career Day.
I read this book several months after reading This Is Where It Ends, another multiple viewpoint take on violence on a school campus. Of the two, this one is the superior telling of the story. Part of it is the amount of time King puts into creating characters for this world — characters that I felt invested in and was truly concerned about their fate as well as curious to see how things would play out for them. She also creates better motivation for the culprit in her story simply by giving us multiple people that the culprit could or should turn out to be.
As a novel of suspense, Lockdown succeeds in spades. It’s a character-driven suspense story that builds a slow-burn to a seemingly inevitable conclusion.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.