Bad Move

Bad Move

by Linwood Barclay

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553587043
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/26/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 279,691
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Linwood Barclay is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of sixteen critically acclaimed novels, including the Promise Falls trilogy, composed of Broken PromiseFar From True and The Twenty-Three; No Safe HouseA Tap on the WindowTrust Your Eyes, which has been optioned for film; and No Time Goodbye. The author lives in Oakville, ON.

Read an Excerpt


for years, I envied my friend Jeff Conklin, who, at the age of eleven, found a dead guy.

We were in Grade 6, in Mr. Findley's class, and most days we walked home together, Jeff and I, but this particular day my mom picked me up after school not only because it was raining pretty hard, but also because I had a checkup booked with Dr. Murphy, our family dentist. Jeff didn't have the kind of mom who cared about picking him up at school when it was raining, so he struck out for home, no umbrella, no raincoat, stomping through all the puddles in his sneakers.

At one point, the heavens opened up and the rain came down so hard the streets flooded. I remember as we were pulling into the dentist's parking lot you couldn't see past the windshield, even with the wipers going full blast, thwacking back and forth on our 1965 Dodge Polara. It was like we weren't in a car, but in the Maid of the Mist, right under Niagara Falls.

Meanwhile, the worst of the rain had let up a bit as Jeff, now as wet as if he'd done ten laps at the community pool, rounded the corner onto Gilmour Street. Up ahead there was a blue Ford Galaxie pulled up close to the curb, and stretched out on the pavement next to it, on his stomach, was a man.

At first Jeff thought it was a kid, but kids didn't wear nice raincoats or dress pants or fancy shoes. It was a very small man. Jeff approached slowly, then stopped. The man's short legs were stretched out into the street, shoes angled awkwardly, and from where Jeff stood, it looked like his head was cut off at the curb, which really creeped Jeff out.

He took a few more steps, the world engulfed in the sound of rain, and shouted, "Mister?"

The little man said nothing, and didn't move.

"Mister? You okay?"

Now Jeff was standing right over him, and he could see that the man's chest was positioned over a storm drain where water was coursing around him and disappearing. His right arm and head were wedged into the drain. Now Jeff could see why it appeared that the man's head had been cut off.

"Mister?" he shouted one last time. Jeff confided to me that he wet his pants then, but it was okay, because he was already soaked and no one would be able to tell the difference. He ran to the closest house, banged on the door, and told the elderly man who answered that there was a dead man's head in the storm sewer. The old man had a look at the weather and decided to call the police rather than conduct his own investigation.

As best as the police could tell, this was what happened: The man—his name was Archie Roget, and he was an accountant—had left work early and was planning to run a few errands on the way home. He could tell by the approaching clouds that the light rain was about to turn into a deluge, so he pulled over to the curb to get his raincoat out of the trunk. (His wife told police he never went anywhere without a raincoat in the trunk, or a cushion on the front seat to help him see over the steering wheel.) He opened the trunk with his keys from the ignition—this was in the days before remote trunk releases—slipped on the coat, and slammed the trunk shut. Then, somehow or other, he lost his grip on the car keys, which slipped between the iron bars of the storm sewer grate. It was the kind that hugged the curb, where there was a broader vertical opening wide enough to slip an arm in, at least.

Roget got down on his hands and knees, must have been able to see his keys, and reached in. But his arm, like the rest of him, was a few inches too short, so to get a bit more length, he wedged in his head, which was, like the rest of him, tiny.

And his head got stuck.

And then the downpour struck.

Just as the wipers on my mom's car couldn't stay ahead of the rain, the storm drains couldn't empty the streets fast enough. They backed up, and Archie Roget's lungs filled with rainwater.

The circumstances of the man's death were so bizarre that the story made the papers, even hitting the wires. Jeff was interviewed not only by local reporters, but by newspapers from as far away as Spokane and Miami. He was, at least at Wendell Hills Public School, a celebrity. And if it hadn't been for my dental appointment, I might have been there to share the spotlight. This was my introduction to the cruelties of fate.
I moped around the house for nearly a week. How come I never got to find a dead guy? Why did Jeff get all the breaks? Everyone wanted to be his friend, and I tried to bask in his reflected glory. I'd tell my friends at Scouts, a different group of boys from my school friends, "You know that story, about the guy who drowned with his head in the storm drain? Well, that was my best friend who found him, and I woulda been with him, but I had to go to the dentist." No cavities, by the way. A perfect checkup. I could have skipped the appointment and it wouldn't have mattered. The ironies were enough to make an eleven-year-old's head spin.

My dad felt there was at least one lesson to be learned. "When you grow up, Zack, you remember to join the triple A. It's like insurance. If that man had belonged to the auto club, someone else would have come and got his keys for him and he'd be alive today. Don't you forget." This may have been when I started developing my lifelong obsession with safety, but more about that later.

The reason this whole thing with Jeff was such a big deal, of course, is that finding a dead body's not the sort of thing that happens to you every day. Other than Jeff, I can't think of a single friend or acquaintance who's ever stumbled upon a corpse. Not that I've asked them all. It's hardly necessary. If one of your friends finds a body, chances are good that the next time you see them, they're going to mention it. Right away. It's a great conversation starter. As in: "Oh my God, you won't believe what happened on Friday. I was taking a shortcut, that alley behind the deli? And there's these legs sticking out from behind a garbage can."

There are some body-finding circumstances I don't count. Like if you go to check on your ninety-nine-year-old Aunt Hilda, who lives alone and hasn't answered the phone for three days, and find her rigid in her favorite chair, the TV on, the remote on the floor by her feet, the cat climbing the curtains in hunger. That kind of thing happens. That's natural.

And there are certain lines of work where discovering a dead body's no big thing. Police officers come to mind. A lot of times, they're looking for a body before they actually find it, so you lose the element of surprise. Finding a body when you're already looking for a dead body isn't quite the same as when you're just out for a stroll. "Finally, there it is. Now we can get some lunch."

I'm an unlikely candidate to find a body. First of all, I'm not, unlike a police detective, in a line of work where finding a victim of foul play is a common occurrence, unless you know something about science fiction authors that I don't. And second, when I found a body, I wasn't living in some big city, where, if you believe what you see on TV, people come across dead people about as often as they go out for bagels.

I found my body in the suburbs, where, although I do not have actual statistics to back this up, people are more likely to die of boredom than run into someone nasty. I came across a corpse in as tranquil and beautiful a spot as you could hope to find.

Willow Creek, to be exact. Where my wanderings often take me. Listening to shallow water cascading over small rocks can clear the mind and help one work out plot problems. But when you're engaged in thoughts of interplanetary exploration and whether God can spread himself thin enough to oversee worlds other than our own, there's nothing like finding a guy with his skull bashed in to bring you back to reality.

He was face down, in the creek. And, unlike your typical Law & Order extra who comes upon a stranger who's had a date with destiny, I actually knew who this man was, and who might actually want him dead.

A couple of things. Despite how I envied Jeff as a kid, I'd have been happy to go through life without ever finding a dead guy. Because this discovery didn't come with the kind of notoriety Jeff received, but did carry with it the burden of adult responsibility.

And here's the other thing. If this body had been the first and last I'd ever come upon, well, this story would be much shorter. There wouldn't be all that much to tell.

But that's not the way it turned out.

Table of Contents

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Bad Move 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It's fast paced and keeps your interests. It is comical and I really started feeling sorry for poor ole Zack Walker. Very Humorous. Quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Walker family used to live downtown. However, when used condoms and needles were found on the street and a five year old girl was killed and cut up and put in the refrigerator, Zack decided it was time to move to the suburbs, where his family would be safe. Zack obsesses over his family¿s safety and he goes to extraordinary lengths to teach his loved one how to remain out of harm's way, which usually ends up making them furious at him.................................... One day when Zack and his wire are at the supermarket, he notices his spouse left her purse in the cart. To teach her a lesson he takes the bag and puts it in the trunk of the car so she will think it is stolen. When his wife comes back to the car, he realizes she is wearing a fanny pack and he stole someone else¿s purse. By the time he tracks the owner down, he finds her murdered in her home and realizes he has stumbled into a dangerous situation that puts him and his family in harm¿s way......................................... BAD MOVE is one of the most exciting crime thrillers of the year as the troubles the protagonist finds himself in borders on the slapstick. His obsessive need for safety lands him in trouble with businessmen, politicians and a cold blooded killer who wants nothing more than to murder the hero and read his latest science fiction manuscript. Making all the right moves, Linwood Barclay has a refreshingly original voice that this reviewer believes will turn her into a superstar in the crime thriller sub-genre........................... Harriet Klausner
bookster69 More than 1 year ago
The characters were so believable and at times I laughed so hard I cried. The story line kept me reading till I finished it at 3:00 a.m. It was one of those books that you hate to see end and yet I could not wait to see how things turned out. I am now planning on reading all Linwood Barclay's books. I rate this novel 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read some of Linwood Barclay's more recent novels and enjoyed them, so I thought I would try the first in his Zack Walker series. What a kick! The sense of humor he gives his characters, Zack in particular, really adds to the story. The kids were great too! I recommend this for a fun crime thriller story. Now on to the other books in the series!
Joe_Mic More than 1 year ago
At first, I thought the events being described were completely pointless. However, they were funny so I continued reading. Little did I know, Barclay would bring every single aspect of the beginning into the end. I was glued to the book and had no desire to put it down. I found myself both laughing, and dying to know what was going to happen. My first Barclay read will not be my last!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Linwood Barclay has definately out done himself again. I pick up his books & can't put them down til the last page is read. Zack Walker definately cracks me up with all of the different things he gets himself into. Can't wait to finish this book then read the next 1 in the Zack Walker series.
PeteCA More than 1 year ago
Linwood Barklay can do no wrong--this series would be perfect for movie adaptation
shawnd on LibraryThing 15 hours ago
Bad Move is a quickly paced action novel told in the first person by the smart alecky writer, Zack Walker. Zack has moved his family into the suburbs from urban life--the 'Bad Move' to which the title refers--and a relocation that is intended to be safer for his family quickly leads to risky, illegal, violent outcomes. The story is populated with larger-than-life cast of supporting roles, however the weight of these characters is not provided by Barclay's writing, but by their professions. As the mysteries emerge about who his neighbors really are, they seem like obvious cardboard cut-outs. The most realistic and rewarding portions of the book are not the action or mystery, but the relationship between Zack and his wife Sarah, and his two kids. The book could easily have been a Generation X, musing mid-life crisis story of a man's personal battles with no murder or crime and the really sophisticated writing could still exist. It doesn't fail as an action story but what turns it from a mediocre watered down thriller to something worth reading is Barclay's main character and his evolution with his wife and his new but falling-apart home.
justablondemoment on LibraryThing 15 hours ago
Zach is a safety freak. He moves his family from the city after several crimes takes him over his limit into a suburb where he feels things will be better. Not long after settling into the new home he learns this was a bad move, a very bad move.This book was just okay for me. I enjoyed and did laugh at times at the situations the main character got himself into, but it just didn't keep me totally engaged. Murder and laughter just to me somehow do not fit together. If this had just been a book about the family with no murder involved I think I would have enjoyed it more
TomSlee on LibraryThing 15 hours ago
I had heard that Barclay has turned into a good crime writer. I never did find his newspaper columns funny, so maybe it's not surprising that I didn't get much from this book either. It seemed predictable and formulaic - or maybe I just have no sense of humour. Maybe his later books are the gritty ones?
anhinga204 on LibraryThing 16 hours ago
This is the second Zack Wolf "the worrier" novel. Zack is now working as a reporter for the newspaper. He's writing a feature on a private detective who's investigating smash-and-grab robberies. And he buys a car at a police auction. The vehicle comes with serious complications. And it appears Zack's daughter is being stalked, so he begins following her around. He learns more than he'd really like to know -- or thinks he does. Fun, funny, and exciting at the same time. Excellent.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The _Bad Move_ is about the move from downtown Toronto, which is crime infested, to the suburbs, where nothing ever happens. As the title suggests, it all turns out otherwise.This is his first novel. I just read the second one and really liked it. This one is also well written and funny, even though it was morepredictable, as the matrix is the same.
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Elaine-bookworm More than 1 year ago
My sister told me I had to read this, it was super funny. I didn't find it that funny and thought the main character was an idiot. I did finish it but some things were very predictable in the book.
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Wow. I'm glad someone (a good editor?) sat Barclay down at some point and said "If you ever want to make it as a fiction writer, you've got to stop writing crap like this". This book is like a really bad made-for-tv movie, where you're mildly interested for the first 20 minutes thinking "how bad can it be?", and at the hour and 15 minute mark the writing and the acting are so bad you want to poke your eyes out for continuing that long with it.
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