Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are ruthless and ambition Wall Street finance high flyers. They all work in the best firm in the market and their job is to make millions for their clients, their bosses and of course themselves, not caring at all how that affects normal people lives. Big sharks swimming in hostile waters. However, they don’t really care, they are too greedy to mind anything that does not add to their game. After an e-mail from the firm’s HR, they find themselves participating in an Escape Room Challenge as a team building activity. With the current lay-off situation in the firm, they are all eager to prove to the firm that they are valuable assets that bring a pile of money in. Once though the lights go off and the door remains shut, it becomes clear to them all that this is no ordinary escape room. This is a survival game.
The four investment bankers need to put aside their rivalries and cooperate in order to solve the mysterious clues that will result in opening the door of the escape room. The confined space brings out the worst of them. Their temper builds, as does their frustration as time goes by and they turn against their team leader and against each other. The one puzzle they need to solve at the end is the most difficult one. Which one of them is going to survive? Which one is going to kill?
A thrilling read that will keep you turning the pages from the first sentence to the very end. The story actually starts with the last scene. Guns shooting in an empty building. Police coming in and people either dead or in blood come out. A strong picture to start with and a lot of questions as to how did we end up with that. This is the big challenge of the author. Having given out the big finale, will she manage to keep the reader interested into the plot? Well, she definitely delivers! I could not keep the book out of my hands, even though I had way too little time to read!
The story is narrated in two timelines. The first one is in the past, where we meet Sara Hall. A young girl that has just gotten her MBA, on the search for a job in corporate finance. She really needs that job, as she has to contribute to her father’s medical bills and support herself and her family. She has just come out of an interview that did not go well, as the recruiter had already made up his mind before it even started. Sarah is devastated as she spent all her money to get a great suit for the interview as well as to travel all the way from Chicago to New York. Right on cue, she meets Vincent on the elevator on her way down to the lobby. Soon after, he calls her in for an interview and her dream job at Stanhope and Sons becomes a reality!
The second timeline is set in the present with Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam meeting for the Escape Room Challenge and entering the elevator. Each and everyone of them has somewhere else to be, but the message they got said it is a compulsory thing, so they have to get it over with, to get back what they had already planned for the evening. Meeting spouses or friends or whatever else was on their agenda. What they didn’t plan was to get stuck on a trapped elevator for hours.
Megan Goldin sheds some light to the out-of-ordinary life of corporate finance where ruthlessness rules and people become prey to the powerful ones. This is neither the workplace most people are familiar with, nor the paycheck they are used to. Most of it sounds surreal to the common people. It is however full of intrigues and back stabbing as it is always depicted in the news or on TV shows. And it is the perfect set for The Escape Room. It may be Goldin’s debut novel, but it doesn’t lack in plot or any other aspect.
The whole atmosphere of the firm is portrayed in the best way possible, making the reader part of the setting, one of the guys in the team. The characters are being described as the vicious creatures they are, thinking only of themselves and how to undermine their colleagues. I guess this is something that is happening not only on big Wall Street firms, but in many other businesses as well. I just hope that it is not in the same degree as what I read in the book. Shallow people, with Shallow needs and addictions that reflect a reality we want to avoid.
About the author:
MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. THE ESCAPE ROOM is her debut novel.