The third book in Linwood Barclay’s series set in the town of Promise Falls, New York. All of the people described in the first two books are present and following the patterns set previously. But this novel dives right into a problem never before encountered in the small city and devastating for the people living there. It is Memorial Day weekend and suddenly hundreds of people become sick with flu like symptoms rushing to the hospital, with many dying almost at once. The water supply quickly becomes the culprit and it is found to be so. Who would poison the town’s drinking water and why? Private investigator Cal Weaver starts to look at the situation and investigating who would benefit from this catastrophe and what would be gained by it.
Meanwhile Barry Duckworth, a detective with the Promise Falls police department has another set of problems. A coed at the local college has been murdered. Duckworth sees the same pattern in the homicides of two other women in the past. Strange recent happenings in Promise Falls begin to make sense; bloody mannequins found in car 23 of an abandoned Ferris wheel, a fiery out of control bus with the number 23 on the back and the same designation on the hoodie of a man accused of assault. The number 23 seems to represent the reason for the harm brought to the townspeople with both Weaver and Duckworth looking into the situation as quickly as possible.
Barclay has succeeded in making a variety of people in the stories lifelike, with characteristics that are painstakingly followed through in the three books. All of the principal characters continue to act in accordance with the personalities and interests inherent in them from the beginning. And while the Promise Falls books seemingly were to be a trilogy, some factors coming out in the end of book three point to another novel coming up. I certainly would look forward to reading more books centered around the people and town of Promise Falls in the near future.
11/16 Paul Lane
THE TWENTY-THREE by Linwood Barclay. Berkley (November 1, 2016). ISBN 978-0451472724. 464p.