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Bad Move

(Zack Walker #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,389 ratings  ·  360 reviews
In the too-quiet town of Oakwood, only the lucky die of boredom…and new homeowner Zack Walker isn’t feeling lucky. Whoever said the burbs were boring will think twice after reading Linwood Barclay’s hilarious debut mystery, in which Dad learns the hard way that he doesn’t always know best.

Zack wouldn’t blame you for thinking he’s safety-obsessed. True, he maste
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2004)
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Asteropê Kindle edition is listed on Amazon UK -
Looks like for the Kindle edition, pub date is: 10 Aug. 2017

#2 Kindle edition -
pub date: 7…more
Kindle edition is listed on Amazon UK -
Looks like for the Kindle edition, pub date is: 10 Aug. 2017

#2 Kindle edition -
pub date: 7 Sep 2017

#3 Kindle edition -
Pub date: 5 Oct. 2017

#4 Kindle edition -
Pub date: 2 Nov 2017

Looks like the UK is just getting this series in ebook form. You might be able to buy used physical copies of other editions. I don't know if the publisher (Orion) plans to have physical copies eventually or not, but you can get the ebooks this year.


Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,389 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel written by Linwood Barclay, before the author became even known. The first in a series of four. Zack Walker is an unlikeable character, a paranoid freak about security, a father who always tends to “teach his family a lesson”, because they are so security unconscious about everything. Ultimately, the last lesson will backfire on him, when he grabs an unattended purse thinking it belongs to his wife. This action will make all hell to break lose, and finally he and his fami ...more
William Arsenis
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BAD MOVE started off way too slow. Normally, I'd stop reading a book like this after the first chapter. But this was the debut novel of a currently successful author with a following, and it was published by Bantam, no less.

So my curiosity was piqued.

His prose is very good, but a bit too wordy for my taste. He doesn't lose himself in unnecessary descriptions, but when I'm reading a boring passage and it's not immediately clear to me why this has to be in the book, I tend
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linwood Barclay is an author I regularly come back to, aware I will find a gripping book. Most of his books are solid four-star ratings, but I have had a single five-star rating (A Tap on the Window) and a three-star rating (Broken Promise), hence why I always return for more. Despite the numerous Linwood Barclay books I have read, due to the delay in printing them in the UK, I never got the chance to read his original series. Fortunately, the Zack Walker mysteries have been made available in th ...more
Jan 17, 2015 marked it as dnf
I made it about 75% through this book, realized it was a chore more than a pleasure, and decided to stop reading. One of my least favorite plots is "someone does something stupid, then does something even more stupid to cover up the first thing, and then the whole thing snowballs out of his control." This book just wasn't for me.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always enjoy a good Linwood Barclay novel. It really made me laugh in parts. Nice easy, enjoyanle read.
Shonna Froebel
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, mystery
Having read Barclay's latest, I wanted to read one of his earlier, more humorous mystery books to get a feel for it. I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Zack Walker is a science fiction writer that used to write for newspapers and whose wife, Sarah, still does. Having seen crime rise in their downtown city neighbourhood and concerned for their teen children, Paul and Angie, the family has recently moved to the suburbs. Zack is still a bit hung up on safety issues, creating scenar
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an excellent combination of humor and mystery. Zack Walker, a safety-conscious science fiction writer moves to the 'burbs with his wife and two teenage kids, only to become entangled in a local crime. His focus on demonstrating to his wife and children the safety and security error of their ways is both funny and relatable (at least being married to my husband). In contrast to many amateur sleuths, Zack is properly terrified and freaked out by the mess he finds himself in, which ma ...more
Richard Wildsmith
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to win this book as a giveaway. This is the 2nd Linwood Barclay book I have read and I quite liked the first one, hence entering the giveaway competition.

I did enjoy this book. I'd probably give it a 3.5 out of 5, although it was closer to a 4 more than a 3. I enjoyed the author's writing style and the humorous tone of the book. I found it exciting especially from around the half way point and liked the main character (mainly due to his nerdy love of sci-fi). I als
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, crime
A hyper-paranoid writer decides that the city is becoming too dangerous for his family, so he moves them all to the suburbs.
Because his family just don't pay attention to safety (leaving doors unlocked, or not putting things away, etc.) he annoys them by lecturing and then by "teaching them lessons", mocking up disasters that they have "caused" by doing something unsafe.
As the result of trying to teach his wife a lesson, he inadvertently stumbles across something that he shouldn't ha
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I wanted to be annoyed by this book; You know the guy who always does the most stupid thing in any situation? This book is about that. But I kept reading until the end (I was stuck on a plane). It had it's moments, but I guess I wouldn't recommend it - there is so much other good stuff out there..
Maureen DeLuca
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF- I tried and tried to get thru this and I just couldn't ... I really like Linwood Barclay as an author- I kept picking this book up, putting it down, going back to it, then I just couldn't do it. Maybe if I see the 2nd book in this series at my library, I'll pick it up- there are so many 'good' reviews of this book and this series- it just may be worth giving it another shot.... *sigh*
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First in the Zach Walker series. Entertaining and funny. T here was one plot element that had Zach making such a monumentally stupid decision that it nearly lost me. However, things picked up after that and I was able to get past it. Not bad for a first novel. I shall read more in the future
Fiona (Titch) Hunt
A really good book. 1st of his I've read and can't wait to read the next in this great series.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Lots of suspense mixed with humor. I couldn't put the book down. Looking forward to reading the 2nd in the series.
Terri Lynn
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recently discovered Linwood Barclay through his most recent book and have been reading backwards to catch up on his previous books. This is one of his earlier ones and you can tell the difference.

This book had a lot more humor in it than the later ones but I grew annoyed at the author spending pages trying to prove that the protagonist Zach is an asshole. Why? Well, before moving to the suburbs, Zach was very safety conscious and apparently his wife and teen son and daughter are complete idio
Cathy Cole
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How good is Bad Move? I took it out to the pool and didn't stop reading-- and laughing-- until I'd finished it. Zack Walker may be a self-professed jerk, but he's an endearing one. All he wants to do is keep his family safe. He thinks the exact same things I think-- when I see a woman walk off leaving her open purse in her shopping cart at the grocery store for example-- but he has the bravery (or perhaps stupidity) to follow through on those thoughts. Naturally every well-intentioned thing he d ...more
Eric Wright
Zack Walker, klutz extraordinaire, moves his family from a high crime city neighbourhood to the suburb of Oakwood where boredom is the order of the day. His kids object to losing their friends. His wife has to drive farther to her city reporter's job. But he can work at home as a writer of science fiction. Then everything seems to go wrong.

His house shows the signs of a Gerry builder. He stumbles on the body of the local environmentalist face down in the creek he sought to save.
Kirsty Shark
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easy reading. I really liked the characters in this book and their dialogue. Zach is a bit of a Homer Simpson family man, he has a heart of gold but sometimes he ends up acting like an asshole and its some of his brainless decisions that get the wacky plot set in motion. There's a lot of humour here and I loved how the relationships within the family were written with plenty of sarcasm and attitude.

That being said the murder mystery element to this book isn't something which will appeal to
Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it either. It was just kind of blah with sporadic funny parts. The main character is overly obsessed with safety (he's constantly telling his wife and teenage children to lock the house door, remember to turn off the stove, don't talk to strangers, etc). Sometimes he gives them little "lessons" on safety which I thought were pretty funny. It's one of those "lessons" that gets him into a heap of trouble.

It has a lot of swearing.
Lois Duncan
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I haven't read a single novel by Linwood Barclay that I would rate less than four stars. This one was slightly different from the others I've read because, not only was it a mystery, filled with multiple clever twists and turns, but it was FUNNY! I love the way he plants tiny details throughout the book that the reader doesn't take any note of, but when things come together each one turns out to have been an important piece of the whole.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-humorous
This is the first in a series of semi-humorous mystery\thrillers from this author whose has also written a number of stand alone thrillers. Once again, his storyboard and pacing are the best I ever read. He really knows how to take a number of seemingly unrelated events\character traits and bring them all together in a most remarkable way. This book has one very funny\ironic ending and then a twist at the end. Highly recommended.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1st book in the Zack Walker series by Linwood Barclay.

I believe that this was the first book ever published by one of my favourite authors Linwood Barclay and I wasn't disappointed. Very different from his usual style but nevertheless very entertaining and a good read. Contains more humour than normal but made an interesting change to his normal writing style. I will certainly be reading more books in this series.
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing I liked best about this book was the voice. It was as though Zach, the main character, was right here talking to me. I felt like I knew him. I found the extent of his paranoia a bit unbelievable, but overall I really enjoyed the plot and the book.
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An actual excerpt: "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." Yes, that was one sentence.
Thoroughly competent.

This book shares a flaw with many mysteries: The first half is almost entirely character development, and the second half is almost entirely plot.

That said, the character half is very funny. The plot half was less well done, but entertaining.
Les Edgerton
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a long time ago and loved it and just reread it and guess what? I love it even more. Mr. Barclay isn't capable of writing anything but a page-turner. This one has it all--humor and suspense and tension--he's simply a master.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the funniest book I have read in years. It so predictable as to what happens which is for some reason even funnier.
Nancy Ellis
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author is so talented at creating characters that are fun and entertaining! This is the first in his Zack Walker series and introduces us to the slightly whacky, slightly eccentric Zack and his family. They have just moved out of the city to the "safer" suburbs, only to discover that there's no place that is safe. Anyone who has moved into a new subdivision can relate to the frustrations of dealing with new construction and developers! Beginning with Zack's discovery of a murdered environme ...more
Andrea Corley
There were some humorous and seriously lol parts, however, much of the book I found myself wishing it would just get on with it, get to the point, and get the story over! The ending was a bit surprising, or maybe just by the time it got to the point, I was just that disinterested that I didn't even ponder it!

My feels about the MC are simply that he is nothing but a complete idiot! I think I have a lot of bad luck, but Zack Walker takes the cake! And he never learns from previous less
Lynn Vaillancourt
Starts slow but picks up half way. A good crime novel, often humorous.
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Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for adults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.
Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. His two novels for children

Other books in the series

Zack Walker (4 books)
  • Bad Guys (Zack Walker, #2)
  • Lone Wolf (Zack Walker #3)
  • Stone Rain (Zack Walker #4)
“up, going to the living room window, looking through the blinds to Earl’s place. At any moment, I expected to see a fleet of Ladas with Russian mobsters pull into the driveway, guns a-blazin’. Or maybe the cops, driving up on the lawn, pouring out of their cars in riot gear, guns drawn, surrounding the house. Tear gas is lobbed in. Men in gas masks break down the door, and moments later, Earl is dragged out by an officer on either side of him, thrown facedown onto the driveway, his hands cuffed together behind his back. Men in spacesuits start hauling out hundreds of plants and packing them into the back of a specially sealed van. But nothing like that happened. The housecoat” 0 likes
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