by Gina Wohlsdorf


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Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

“Original and imaginative . . . Ripping suspense, sheer terror, and a wrenching love story.” —Sandra Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Friction

The terrible truth about Manderley is that someone is always watching.

Manderley Resort is a gleaming, new twenty-story hotel on the California coast. It’s about to open its doors, and the world--at least those with the means to afford it--will be welcomed into a palace of opulence and unparalleled security. But someone is determined that Manderley will never open. The staff has no idea that their every move is being watched, and over the next twelve hours they will be killed off, one by one.

Writing in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King, and with a deep bow to Daphne du Maurier, author Gina Wohlsdorf pairs narrative ingenuity and razor-wire prose with quick twists, sharp turns, and gasp-inducing terror. Security is grand guignol storytelling at its very best.

A shocking thriller, a brilliant narrative puzzle, and a multifaceted love story unlike any other, Security marks the debut of a fearless and gifted writer.

“Be surprised, be very surprised: Gina Wohlsdorf brings more than just plot twists and a terrifically tender love story to this thriller . . . It’s her playful homage to Hitchcock and du Maurier that had me reading, howling, and just plain loving this novel.” —Sara Gruen, author of At the Water’s Edge

Grand Hotel meets Psycho in the age of surveillance . . . Security is cinematically vivid, crisply written, and sharp enough to cut . . . Wohlsdorf brilliantly subverts our expectations of the action genre in this smart, shocking, poignant thriller.” —Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

“The thrill of this novel goes beyond its wickedly clever,  split-screen, high-tech wizardry—a kind of video gamer’s literary retake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window--and emanates  from its strange, disembodied narrator . . . The effect is terrifying, sexy, dizzying, and impossible to look away from.” —Tim Johnston, author of Descent

“Shocking and filled with Tarantino-ish dark humor. . . Structurally reminiscent of the amazing Jennifer Egan,Wohlsdorf’s book is certainly a hybrid, like nothing else. Get ready.” —Ann Beattie, author of The State We’re In

“Flawless . . . Security is perfectly tuned for blockbuster status . . . They don’t make a hotel big enough to house all the people who will want to read this, and soon, as in Manderley, all eyes will be on Wohlsdorf.” —Daniel Kraus, Booklist, starred review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616206932
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 05/23/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 324,590
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Gina Wohlsdorf’s first novel, Security, was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of 2016. She lives in Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

The maze is twenty-five hundred yards square. Destin Management Group planted hedges before they even began construction on the hotel, since plants can’t be paid to hurry like contractors can. The hedges are twelve feet tall, lush, rounded smooth as sanded wood, and currently a dark black green. This is because the hotel is straight and monolithic, a stark white block on a flat stretch of Santa Barbara beach, the kind of building that inspires arguments about whether its simplistic appearance is a great leap forward in design, or whether a child with a crayon and a napkin could have drawn it while waiting for a five-dollar grilled cheese. It’s visible from the Pacific Coast Highway but only just. The driveway is quite long so as to accommodate the hedge maze, which is the size of half a football field, and it is darkening, now, in the hotel’s shadow.

In the maze’s center, the dark red roses are immaculate, thanks to four hours of grooming and possibly because Sid, a freckled and obese landscape technician, is singing “O Danny Boy” in his surprisingly gentle tenor. He told the landscape architect that romantic serenades are the secret to growing flawless red roses; fragile flowers need to know they’re loved. He also told the landscape architect he hated the hotel and would take the contract on the condition he never had to go inside. “It looks like a goddamn tooth. Like a tooth somebody yanked out and stuck on the beach.” He pointed at the hotel and spat in its direction, unaware anyone was listening. “Like it’d bite you when you weren’t watching close.”

Manderley Resort does look somewhat like a tooth. Kinder metaphors like “jewel” and “main sail” are more prominent in the marketing materials. Ads in every medium have ensured that Manderley is the talk of its demographic. Every third billboard in Los Angeles splashes a quote from Travel magazine about how tasteful, how opulent, and how special Manderley will be once it opens in August. It is now mid-July. More tasteful and more opulent invitations arrived at the households of LA’s elite yesterday. It’s going to be the Party of the Year. It says so on the invitation. Charles Destin--owner of Destin Management Group, owner of Manderley Resort--does not know how to throw a party that is anything but the Party of the Year.

In the maze, Sid’s wrist beeps, signaling the end of his workday. He croons his final verse to the dry, rose-heavy air--“For you will bend”--snipping deep into a hedge so that a perfect bloom’s absence isn’t blight on the foliage. He slides his large clippers through a fat loop in his tool belt and takes a smaller pair from a thin loop, trimming the thorns from the rose’s twelve-inch stem. Sid goes to the fountain at the center of the maze. Immense, made of stone, themed on fruit and hummingbirds, it sits dank and murky, its wide rim holding the detritus of Sid’s labor: excised leaf clots and thorny branches overflowing a black bucket, and plastic sandwich bags bunched in a rusted silver lunch pail. Sid tweezes the rose between thumb and forefinger, setting it on the fountain’s rim with exaggerated care. Using a schmaltzy pianissimo for the final strains of his ballad, he picks up the bucket, shuts his lunch pail and locks it, and departs from the maze’s center, taking the first right turn in his favored route, which is effective but not remotely efficient.

On the nineteenth floor, Tessa is boarding the elevator. Its soft ding carries to the ballroom’s ceiling, thirty feet above her, and bounces off the mural there: a sunset sky in muted pinks and oranges, playing host to a dozen subtle, and subtly modern, cherubim. Their fleshy faces all stare down instead of up. The ballroom’s enormous west-facing windows trap the earliest phases of an actual sunset. Bars of light and shadow crosshatch tables set with china finer than bone. White napkins are folded in the shapes of swans, magnolias, seashells. Only a few are folded in the shape of napkins. A clutch of red roses serves as each table’s centerpiece, and if a guest asks, staff is to confirm that the roses are from Manderley’s garden, though they’re not. Tessa placed a standing order with a florist last week to deliver fifty dozen every Monday.

She holds the elevator’s glass doors open with her left boot and takes a final look at the southeast corner of the ballroom, where Jules is holding the base of a twenty-foot ladder. Jules’s husband and catering partner, Justin, is finishing the pyramid of a thousand champagne flutes they began at seven this morning. At the Party of the Year, Charles Destin intends to climb this ladder and pour a bottle of champagne, the fizz of which will overflow the glass at the apex, to the four glasses under it, and so on, into a thousand glasses. A thin plastic hose worms up through the pyramid. The hose runs to a storage room, where four large tanks of champagne will finish the work that Destin’s pouring will start. Destin compared the illusion of the single bottle of Cristal filling a thousand glasses to the miracle of Jesus and his disciples feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. When Destin made this comparison, Tessa rolled her eyes so hard, one of her contact lenses fell out.

In the elevator, she presses the button for the eleventh floor. The glass doors slide shut, the nineteenth floor rises in front of her, and Tessa’s posture slackens, an exhale showing in her shoulders. She’s pretty, but not an obvious pretty. She tried modeling in college (“Because I’m a twig,” she said once), and the photographers told her she only looked right in three-quarter profile, due to a face that’s a little long, a chin that’s weak, and cheekbones that don’t protuberate. Tessa’s the kind of person who latches onto criticism thankfully and treats compliments like insults. It’s infuriating.

She makes a check mark on her clipboard as the eighteenth floor passes, and another as the seventeenth floor appears underneath her. The elevator is excruciatingly slow. This is because it is diamond shaped and made of glass. Every day at five o’clock, Tessa descends from the ballroom to the foyer, scrutinizing each floor for problems, and the process takes an hour. She usually walks the halls, but she doesn’t have time for that today. Her view from the elevator consists of the long hallway that links the north and south wings of guest rooms--the middle stem of a letter I--and this doubtlessly grates on her, to check off the premises as passing inspection without inspecting them thoroughly. The front sheet of her clipboard shows a diagram of Manderley’s layout with floors numbered one through twenty. The twentieth floor is shaded.

Tessa makes a check mark on her diagram for the sixteenth floor. She taps her boot impatiently. Before the fifteenth floor appears, she makes a check mark in its space. She pinches the bridge of her nose, her eyes falling shut and staying that way, which means when the fifteenth floor does appear, and Vivica in the bright white hallway spies Tessa in the elevator and waves, Tessa doesn’t see her. Vivica is carrying a purple bottle of carpet cleaner and a white cloth, which she flaps ineffectually until Tessa sinks out of sight. Vivica’s mouth draws down in disappointment. She walks toward the north end of the hall, turns left, and sinks to her knees in the entryway of Room 1516. She sprays the carpet cleaner on a round, red stain the size of a quarter and curses it in a flurry of Spanish. She thinks an electrician cut himself. This is not what happened.

The Killer is on the seventh floor. He’s washing his hands in Room 717, scrubbing vivid red from his nail beds and knuckles into the bathroom sink. He picks a fine, light hair from his shirt cuff, studies it with brief interest, and flicks it behind him. It lands on the white bath mat. The water in the sink is paling from a strange, swirled red orange to a shade that matches the gold leaf of the taps. A knife the length of an average man’s forearm is drying on a white towel beside the basket of assorted guest soaps.

Tessa opens her eyes at the fourteenth floor, nods, and makes a firm check mark.

She waits, and makes another for the twelfth floor.

There is no thirteenth floor; Charles Destin is extremely superstitious.

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Security 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Paid for it the next day but read it cover to cover in one night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No hyperbole here. This really is a brilliant book. Well crafted, writing that should be savored (no mean feat when at the same time you want to read it at breakneck pace because it's that good), full of insight and, here and there, some spot-on philosophical bytes. I've never read a book quite like it. Read it and be sure to pay attention!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down.
anneb10 More than 1 year ago
SECURITY starts out a bit slow. The narration of the story is strange, and it's distracting at first. We're introduced to all the characters and some backstory as to how they all came to be in this spot at this time. Tension grows and builds, and then like a roller coaster, crests and the wild ride begins. And wild it is, too. The strange narration at the beginning is explained, heightening the tension of the story. There is some romance, plenty of bravery and revealed secrets - the pacing is very fast after that first crest. For all this is a very short book - only 229 pages - it is as satisfying as a doorstop thriller. I have a slight quibble towards the end of the book but to go into detail would be a spoiler. In any case, this is definitely worth your time. Take a read and enjoy. Full Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly difficult to put down. A new favorite author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice attention to detail. In places hard to follow due to simultaneous events narration. Starts out slow, but like an avalance, picks up speed. Great first effort!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth the time to read. Cant give it zero stars which is my true rating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, and one of those booked you cannot put down. When the regular size print changed to just two letters, I used the smallest print size to get a whole page of print. Weir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
After all the hype I've read about this book and how it was going to be the book of the summer, I gotta say I was thoroughly disappointed. For me, the book was just okay. I finished it with a lot of unanswered questions and I skipped a lot of pages that were just seeming redundant. I also had a hard time reading it. I'm not sure if it's because it was an advance copy or not, but the editing was horrible. I guess my biggest question is what was the point? Who were the killers and why were they doing this? I'm just glad that I didn't have to pay for this and really wish I could get my six hours back. I want to thank Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.