Look both ways by Linwood Barclay

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The age of the driverless car has arrived in Boston and while startling, the sight of a movie producer seducing an actress in a car with no one in the driver’s seat is not beyond the realms of possibility. When there is a fatal glitch in one of the car’s computer system it ruins the Gandalf Company involved and sets the whole concept back in people’s minds. To build confidence, a rival company, Arrivals, swaps all the cars on Garret Island for driverless cars and organises a big publicity promotion with large numbers of invited press. Islander Sandra Montrose is hired to coordinate the event, it is her big break and she is keen for it to be a success. Sandra’s husband was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel so she sees the benefit of the driverless cars. Brandon Kyle, whose company was ruined by the computer glitch, is convinced it was orchestrated by the Arrivals Company and sneaks across to the island in disguise with sabotage on his mind. There are hundreds of Arrivals cars, “like a Dustbuster minus the handle” p. 16, on the island but as the promotional video says, “When you are in an Arrival, you’re not just in one car. You are, effectively, in every other Arrival on the road, because they work as one to serve you.” p. 78, Kyle’s mission is clear! Predictable mayhem ensues as the cars go rogue.

To start with, I was on-board with the premise and I enjoyed the light touch and quips - "I was going to buy a Gandalf but decided not to take the plunge” p. 50, but it failed to maintain pace and there was a lot of repetition and explaining. By the time some of the horror was building the quips became distracting and highlighted the absurdity of some of the action. The characters, apart from Sandra Montrose’s 16 year old daughter Katie, who desperately wants to learn to drive, were either one dimensional or stereotypes and I didn’t care about what happened to them.

This is not my preferred genre but I expect fans of Linwood Barclay’s books will welcome the killer cars as light holiday reading.

Themes: Cars, Thriller, Science fiction, Horror.

Sue Speck