Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
A classroom is held hostage by someone with a thirst for revenge in this stunningly intricate, ripped-from-the-headlines novel of rich psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell mysteries.

Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: a day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King is an award-winning master of combining rich atmospheric detail with riveting, keen-edged mystery. Now, in her newest standalone novel of psychological suspense, King turns her sharp eye to a moment torn from the headlines and a school under threat.
A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school's reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day--bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald's bright vision.

A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother's history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an expolsive confrontation.

Tense, poignant, and brilliantly paced, Laurie R. King's novel charts compelling characters on a collision course--a chain of interactions that locks together hidden lives, troubling secrets, and the bravest impulses of the human heart.

383 pages, Hardcover

First published June 13, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Laurie R. King

114 books6,270 followers
Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshirts in the streets. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series follows a brilliant young woman who becomes the student, then partner, of the great detective. [click here for an excerpt of the first in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice] The Stuyvesant and Grey series (Touchstone; The Bones of Paris) takes place in Europe between the Wars. The Kate Martinelli series follows an SFPD detective's cases on a female Rembrandt, a holy fool, and more. [Click for an excerpt of A Grave Talent]

King lives in northern California, which serves as backdrop for some of her books.

Please note that Laurie checks her Goodreads inbox intermittently, so it may take some time to receive a reply. A quicker response may be possible via email to info@laurierking.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
429 (21%)
4 stars
786 (39%)
3 stars
552 (27%)
2 stars
166 (8%)
1 star
41 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 473 reviews
Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews293 followers
June 27, 2017
2.5 Stars. It’s Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School and Principal Linda McDonald needs the day to go smoothly. The school is in a low-income area and many of the residents are immigrants. The community is also still reeling from both the murder of a teenager by a gang member and the mysterious disappearance of a sixth-grader. Career Day is a chance to bring the students together and show them all the great things that their future could hold. But for some, the future seems too daunting and there's no hope in sight. As the minutes tick by, the people inside Guadalupe Middle School march closer to disaster.

A school had always been a place to incubate hopes and dreams, in a village like Tío’s or in the biggest of cities. But for many of the children here, parental hopes had turned to adult expectations, and the warmth of the incubator felt more like the focused burn of a magnifying glass in the sun. He had first noticed it in the ball games—baseball and what they called soccer here. Mothers and fathers screamed at their players, not in appreciation but in command, even condemnation. Did no one still believe that childhood was a time for joy?

Guadalupe Middle School is located in the farm community of San Felipe, California. It's a "school bubbling with hormones and suppressed rage, with threats all around it” attended by "seven hundred–plus adolescents on the brink of boiling over, into impatience, mockery, even the violence that was never far away.” All middle schools have their problems, but this one suffers from “indifferent staff, poor choices, and school board neglect." The school has made great strides since Linda McDonald became principal, but maintaining stability always seems to be an uphill battle. There's a little bit of everything in this book: guarded secrets, gangs, murder trials, corporate intrigue, missionaries, international terrorism, vengeful mercenaries, a missing kid, alcoholic fathers, accusations of pedophilia and domestic abuse...and even a ghost story! The entire book covers the minutes between 12:13 AM to 1:25 PM. The climatic event doesn't begin until the last 15% of the story. The main action didn't affect me emotionally, but I loved the urgent build-up to it. The omniscient narrator chapters reminded me of some of my favorite parts of The Martian!

It fascinates me to think how we all happen to be here, to think of the tales behind each one of us, the ways our stories not only brought us here, but how they will change how we go forward, together and apart.

The chapters of Lockdown alternate between a diverse set of characters: a principal, a school volunteer, a janitor, a coach, a school psychologist, a cop, five students, and one guest speaker. The problem with such a large cast of characters is that the detailed back stories felt like both too much and not enough. Many of the characters could’ve carried an entire book by themselves. Several of them ended up in San Felipe after escaping violence in their home countries. I’d love to read more about the school janitor who ended up in California after losing everything and Mina’s mother's escape from Iran in the 1970s. A series with Officer Olivia Mendez would be pretty awesome too!

These were children who had long outgrown childish naiveté: raised with televised violence, playing games of graphic death, taught by their parents to mistrust any political, economic, or even religious authority. Eleven-year-old girls with braces on their teeth and sparkly unicorns on their notebooks breathed out the cynicism of a Nihilist. And yet, even the oldest, most sneering of these adolescents harbored secret pockets of hope, a hidden belief that the world might still hold out an outstretched hand in place of a fist.

The common thread between the students is that they are all struggling with their identities. They don't like what they see in the mirror and the adults in their lives pressure them to be something other than what they want to be. They are stuck in the awkward transitional phase between child and adult. As much as they keep secrets and wall themselves off from the adults that care about them, they still seem to be aching for someone to reach out to them and break through their defenses. The faculty of Guadalupe Middle School are trying to figure out how to get through to these kids, many who don’t have the best of home lives. It's a tough position to be in, because there's a thin line between gaining a kid's trust and pushing them further away.

Guadalupe was a tapestry built from jagged and mismatched pieces that, with care, could find a fit. Unlikely shapes, from a myriad of sources, joined by skilled hands and the eye of a believer. The broken, the lost, and the hidden from view, made into something new.

The theme of Career Day is “Unexpected Threads” and the goal is to show how everything ties together. Principal McDonald says in her speech that "a school is a tapestry of threads." Her husband muses that the roughest threads can be beautiful and the most delicate of threads can become a noose. Officer Mendez wonders if a sweater is a more apt metaphor, because it can all fall apart with the slight pull of a loose thread. In the end, Principal McDonald realizes the school is more like a mosaic than a deliberately woven tapestry. As all these disparate characters from diverse backgrounds are brought together, they set each other on new and unexpected paths: "Everyone’s histories wove together to create a thing of beauty. Or ugliness, sometimes."

I rounded up my rating because I enjoyed Laurie King’s writing and her ability to create compelling stories for her characters. I would be interested in reading more of her books. It's just that by the end of Lockdown, I didn't feel much payoff for getting so invested in several of the characters' lives. One character was noticeably one-dimensional next to the more well-developed characters and that person dampened some of the emotional power for me.

If you liked this book, you might enjoy The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs (school shooting/threads/a ton of characters). If the ghost story interested you, I recommend reading the short story "Adela's House" in Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez.

I received this book for free from Netgalley and Random House/Bantam. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now!
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,861 reviews191 followers
June 8, 2017
Author Laurie R. King, best known for her Sherlock Holmes-Mary Russell historical mystery series, has penned a suspense-filled stand-alone novel that will keep readers reading much too far into the night.

Something really, really, really bad is about to happen at Guadalupe Middle School, a working-class school in a California town plagued with gangs, drug- and alcohol-addicted parents, child abuse, a disappeared child — the usual panoply of modern urban problems. That’s no spoiler: King foreshadows the horrendous event that occurs there on Career Day. The plot is revealed, bit by bit, in alternating points of view: missionary-turned-principal Linda McDonald, who has made great strides in turning the school around in her first year; McDonald’s mysterious English husband; a Chicana policewoman; the daughter of an Iranian émigré; a troubled, overly imaginative boy; the sullen basketball star and his overbearing father; the strict but wise basketball coach; the younger brother of two gangbangers, and the school’s janitor, who is much more than he seems. King manages to gradually turn up the suspense on what form the terror will take and who the perpetrator will turn out to be, with several possibilities dangled throughout. The novel, while not labeled young adult, will certainly appeal to that demographic as well as adults. Highly recommended.

Incidentally, King, who also has a five-book series featuring lesbian police detective Kate Martinelli has Officer Olivia Mendez telephone Martinelli as part of an investigation, a very nice touch.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Bantam in exchange for an honest review.
Author 6 books122 followers
January 10, 2018
I've always preferred King's standalone to her series, and while this isn't my favorite (that would be Folly and Keeping Watch), it is a topical, ripped from the headlines, and riveting story. This initially reminded me of Jodi Picoult's novels, particularly Nineteen Minutes, but while Picoult frequently focuses on the aftermath of terrible events, King is all about the build up and here the secrets that intensify the suspense as we discover them. The subject is a shooting in a middle school on Career Day, a chance to involve the community in the school and build good will. We follow 11 hours, sometimes minute by minute, as characters are introduced and their backstories told through flashbacks, and we're always conscious ofs the clock as the minutes tick down until the killer arrives. Pace moves in waves, faster in present time, on hold as we get the players' stories, but short chapters do move it along; multiple points of view and who knew so many people had such dark secrets? introspective characters revealing their thoughts; the story is gritty--some bad things happen before the shooting--and their are issues involving abuse, and all those secrets; menacing, edgy, foreboding tone. King is a good storyteller and a fine writer.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
July 4, 2017
This is a stand-alone book by Laurie R. King. The story is about students, a school principal and her husband, the school police officer and janitor and what leads up to the school shooting and school lockdown. I thought it was great to have San Francisco police detective Martinelli play a brief part in the story. I am a fan of King’s Martinelli series.

The book is well written. The chapters are short and succinct. The tension builds as secrets about various characters are gradually revealed. Each chapter is narrated in a different voice. King has the reader trying to determine who is going to be the shooter. The plot is well crafted and the characters are engaging. Gradually the plot leads the reader to believe one student is going to be the perpetrator, but then suddenly in seconds everything changes. The ending was a big surprise. This is a great psychological suspense story by a master storyteller.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book was almost eleven hours long. Pilar Witherspoon does an excellent job narrating the story. The way she pronounces the Spanish names, I think she might be a native Spanish speaker. Witherspoon is an actress and audiobook narrator.
Profile Image for Bam cooks the books ;-).
1,819 reviews225 followers
June 23, 2017
Laurie R. King is the author of the long-running mystery series featuring Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice, Mary Russell. Here, in this standalone suspense novel, King takes on the story of one life-changing day at the troubled Guadalupe Middle School in San Felipe, CA.

"A school had always been a place to incubate hopes and dreams." In pursuit of that, Principal Linda McDonald has decided to hold a Career Day, where successful adults of the community can come to share details about their jobs with the students. It should be a day of inspiration but as the minutes of that day tick by, there is a growing sense of menace. Are there dark secrets and forces outside of Linda's control that might tear her hard work at the school apart and threaten the very lives of her students?

The plot is quite intricate, shifting between multiple points of view, and I have to admit that I didn't care for that at first. I found it confusing and disliked having to refer back to a list of characters until they became more familiar. But by the 30% mark, I was hooked and couldn't put the book down. The backstories of a few of the major characters were very interesting and added a lot to the book as a whole.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Bonnie Brody.
1,172 reviews185 followers
May 19, 2017
Imagine this: A middle school with a diverse ethnic and socio-economic population of students. It is career day and things are getting revved up but it feels like those in charge are preparing for a special ops operation. It might as well be Quantico but the question remains, 'Why"?

There are several characters that make up this ensemble novel, each with their own history and secrets. Linda, the principal, has turned Guadalupe School into a viable educational institution. Gordon, Linda's husband, has some secrets that, if unveiled, will cause havoc in his life. Tio, the janitor, appears to be more than what he is on the surface. He has a close connection to many students and is a man of all trades. Ben, a student basketball star, lives with his very wealthy step-father who he hates. Mina, an Iraqi refugee, must text her mother several times a day to let her know she is safe. Sofia is Mina's best friend and they are very much into their looks and the boys in the school. Nick, an ephemeral young man, is grieving the disappearance of a schoolmate last year and, as he talks to the school psychologist, it becomes obvious that he believes she's entered another dimension of time. Olivia is the police officer responsible for the school. She takes her job seriously and wants career day to proceed without a glitch.

Several prominent people are scheduled to speak at career day and the students have signed up for the sessions that most interest them. We know from the first sentence of this book that something untoward will happen. As this sentence states, the notes of Dr. Cassandra Henry, are turned over to the San Felipe Police Department following the Guadalupe Middle School incident. From the beginning, I had to ask myself what this incident would be, why it would occur, and who would be responsible for it. Dr. Henry provides a cast of characters, each with a potential reason for raising havoc or worse.

The novel is too choppy. The book is told from various points of view and somehow the ingredients don't meld. I knew what the author was trying to achieve but she fell short. Each character is damaged, but then, what middle school student is not? At that age, students are filled with existential angst. The adults try to read them but they are unreadable. What are the adults' secrets and why do they portend danger for Guadalupe Middle School Career Day?

This stand alone novel fails in its attempt to pull together a large group of people. As the principal says, they are all connected by a tapestry of lives and everyone's history is woven together to create a thing of beauty. "Or ugliness sometimes." This book has a good theme at its center but it fails to deliver.
Profile Image for Aisling.
Author 3 books97 followers
September 14, 2017
In the Acknowledgments at the back of this book the author admits that much of this book was originally short stories. It reads like that. Each chapter tells you the story (and sometimes the waaay back story) of various adults and children at a middle school. And it is all tied together with a trite speech that the principal gives before 'career day' about how they all form a tapestry.

C'mon. A tapestry? But forgiving that painful cliche, this book is both readable and disappointing. The author is great at storytelling. I was vested in each character and interested. But the book is listed as a novel of suspense and I don't think I'm giving anything away by telling you that it involves a shooting at a school. And yet...there was very little suspense, and the climactic scene was so non terrifying it actually detracted from the book. I enjoyed this book as a novel of characters with interesting backgrounds and issues, but as far as suspense and being any kind of realistic depiction of a school shooting? No. Unless you were writing a children's book. So I left the book annoyed that I'd been strung along with these fascinating stories which only came together for one disappointing scene. I'd expect a book like this to leave me with thoughts of gun reform, mental health, education..but no.
I would still read another Laurie King book, though. Just not if it said 'suspense.'
Profile Image for Erika.
754 reviews48 followers
August 31, 2017
I guess I can't say this book was completely horrible because it infuriated me, and fury doesn't come without some other powerful feeling and that equals I guess I cared. Which is why there are 2 stars instead of one. Honestly, I'm surprised I finished it.

Guadalupe Middle School is having Career Day and Linda the principal goes on and on about the school being a "tapestry" and "all the threads coming together" and blah, blah, blah. I thought that was going to be the good part for me, talking about a few of these people who had tiny little pieces of fascinating stories shot in through the book. There were at least four characters I wanted to know so much more about but once you get the snapshot view of a little part of their lives that was just it. Done. You don't get to know more. It's all a big buildup to what amounts to shooting off a cap gun with a flag popping out that says surprise.

My very favorite part of this whole book was Tio, and the way he spoke and acted and worked and lived his life - what was shown - gave me complete joy. The joy of simplicity, and truth, and honesty and contentment. The joy of contentment is something foreign to a lot of people, I think, in this world where everyone wants more and strives to work to have bigger and better everything. It's a good lesson to remind myself of, and I'm grateful for that today.
Profile Image for ⚜️XAR the Bookwyrm.
2,314 reviews17 followers
June 15, 2017

It has been many years since I read one of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novels, but I remember them very fondly as a wildly enjoyable read. It pains me to say this, but I think Ms. King needs to stick to the Mary Russell series, as every novel I have read that isn't Mary Russell is very dry and dull in comparison.

This is an ensemble novel, filled with diverse characters, each with their own history and secrets. The story switches points of view very often, and this becomes very confusing, despite the differences in their voices. That POV switching also made the story very choppy and hard to follow. I found that I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters because of this.

Another problem the POV switching caused for me was a lack of interaction and cohesion between the characters. It took a bit more than half the book for things to get really started interaction-wise and by that point, I was just wanting to get through it as fast as possible. Then, the flashbacks started. It took a disjointed plot and made it worse! The bad thing was, these flashbacks were longer than the events in present day and often times didn't feel relevant to me.

While I applaud the author for making this a slight tie-in to her other present day series, that was not enough to redeem the book in my eyes. I would not recommend this to others, or purchase a copy for myself.
Profile Image for Kathy .
695 reviews229 followers
July 6, 2017
I long ago fell in love with Laurie King's writing through the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. I have followed her books through other series and her standalones, too, and I've been rewarded with great reading year after year. I was excited to learn that there would be a new standalone, but it seemed quite a departure in subject matter from what I expected. I was right. It was a departure, but a fascinating one that proved me wonderfully wrong about my predictions concerning the big event and its villains and heroes. Of course, there are many different scenarios that could have played out due to so many characters who are hiding secrets from their past and present.

The story is presented in alternating chapters between characters, mostly short chapters, but some are longer, and those that are longer turn out to be just the ones I wanted to be so. At first, I wasn't sure about the switching points of view, afraid that I wasn't getting enough from the characters each time to form a clear picture of them, but after a bit, I realized what a crafty choice those transitions from character to character were, building the total story while building the characters. What seemed like a slow burn began to be a suspenseful progression gaining steam all along.

The story centers around Guadalupe Middle School, an economically depressed and troubled school in the small community of San Felipe, California and the upcoming Career Day, designated as one of new principal Linda McDonald's shining moments for the school to show how far it had come in the last year. But, others have their own agendas for Career Day, and some of those agendas are set on destruction. As the important day approaches and then begins, the stories of Linda, her husband, the school janitor, the local police woman, various students and parents, and members of the community reveal all matter of hidden variables that will play out on Guadalupe's big day. While there is much good going on both visibly and behind the scenes, there is also evil festering with an urgent pulse. And, while much progress has been made with the new principal, the school year has seen the murder of one of the student's teenage sister and the disappearance of one of Guadalupe's students. These events along with the dramas playing out in each character's life form the crisis that will make or break the school and community. Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School turns out nothing like Principal Linda McDonald had envisioned and nothing like I had anticipated.

Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,590 reviews75 followers
December 13, 2017
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was really intrigued by a new standalone book from Laurie King. I've enjoyed her strengths in characterization and empathy in the past.

The structure of this book reminded me of a book by John Sanford with ADD. Each chapter was a couple of pages long at most, sometimes only a paragraph or two. So while the book looks like it's over 300 pages long, I'd say there's only about half that much content to read, tops. Each chapter is a time of day. It starts at about midnight of the fateful day of Lockdown, and progresses excruciatingly slowly towards what we're all waiting for. I began to skim, and I was about 80% of the way into the book by the time we get to the lockdown situation. Which was not even a very effective lockdown.

What does King spend her time doing for the rest of the book? Tiny little vignettes about a huge cast of characters. About half a dozen kids in the middle school where the action takes place, a dad of one of the kids, a cop,a janitor (this one seems to be included because King had a soapbox issue that she wanted to do) a very neurotic principal and her husband. When I was first introduced to this principal, she didn't seem capable of dealing with a classroom of students, much less an entire school of them. She came across as soooo concerned what everyone thought of her that I was turned off.

Most of the students are Hispanic, and their voices also made me cringe. Lots of "pinche" and "puto" and it just felt very forced. Not that you don't hear that language with kids, but it seemed like King was trying soooo hard to make sure that we knew that these kids were Hispanic, yep, definitely they use Spanish words! And cuss words, too, so we know they're trying to be tough!

And at the end, well, the bad guy has already been made out to be so bad that there's no sympathizing with him, and he seems like a cardboard cutout. King pulls her punches at the end. I'm glad I skimmed it.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,211 reviews112 followers
June 5, 2017
Principal Linda MacDonald wants Career Day at Gaudalupe Middle School to be memorable. But as she frets over the language of her introductory speech, little does she know what will unfold on this day and how truly memorable it will be for herself, the students and the participants.

Laurie R. King's Lockdown bills itself as a novel of suspense. And like a film by Alfred Hitchcock, King gets us to invest in her characters to help build and ratchet up the tension until it finally reaches a boiling point. And when it does, King not only earns the payoff, but has a few well foreshadowed surprises for readers as well.

Alternating between multiple viewpoints and characters, King invests the world of Gaudalupe Middle School with several potential scenarios, slowly building to the (seemingly) inevitable outcome and the lockdown of the title. Leading up to an event that is taken from today's headlines, King gives readers multiple options of who and what might be the trigger for the events of Career Day.

I read this book several months after reading This Is Where It Ends, another multiple viewpoint take on violence on a school campus. Of the two, this one is the superior telling of the story. Part of it is the amount of time King puts into creating characters for this world -- characters that I felt invested in and was truly concerned about their fate as well as curious to see how things would play out for them. She also creates better motivation for the culprit in her story simply by giving us multiple people that the culprit could or should turn out to be.

As a novel of suspense, Lockdown succeeds in spades. It's a character-driven suspense story that builds a slow-burn to a seemingly inevitable conclusion.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,733 reviews327 followers
March 8, 2018
King is probably best known for her Mary Russell series, but this is a stand-alone psychological thriller. As the title implies, it focuses on an incident at a school – Guadalupe Middle School in San Felipe, California. The action follows the characters on one particular day, “Career Day,” when Principal Linda McDonald will bring in a variety of adults to talk to the students about various career options. King gives us a timeline for each chapter, taking us from just after midnight to shortly after 1:00 p.m. The narration moves from character to character by chapter as well.

In addition to Linda, the reader learns something about her husband Gordon, Police Detective Olivia Mendez, the coach, the school janitor, a couple of the parents, and several of the students. In the back of everyone’s mind is the recent disappearance of Bee Cuomo, a sixth grader, and the previous year’s shooting death of Gloria Rivas. One child, in particular, is planning a large and important gesture on Career Day, and with all these threads of tension, King keeps the reader guessing as to what might happen.

I thought a couple of the elements of the plot’s ending were just too conveniently pat, but I was still entertained throughout. My F2F book club will be discussing this book in March, and I’m eager to hear what others thought of it.
Profile Image for Katherine.
727 reviews87 followers
July 17, 2017
From the book's acknowledgements:
"Lockdown is a thriller set in a school under threat, but it is about the school's community, its weak points and skills, and the strength it can find when pressed to the brink. A story about how rescue comes from within, and how heroism may rise from the most unexpected direction."

The author handles a very difficult storyline without blatant violence and with tremendous humanity. King also uses differing character point of view in a great way. Surprisingly uplifting and extremely well done!

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,075 reviews241 followers
October 3, 2017
In my eyes, Laurie R. King can do no wrong. She has been on my Indispensables List for over two decades, and she is absolutely one of those writers whom I will follow anywhere. I doubt I would normally read a book about a school shooting; there are still too-fresh scars in this neck of the woods for me to choose such a subject for entertainment. (That's so in lots of necks of lots of woods; here it's because of Sandy Hook and twenty tiny dead children.)

All the different strands of this story – the students, the parents, the teachers, the custodian, the killer among them - weave a stressfully tense story. The humor and normalcy of early events are deeply overshadowed by what you know is coming, and the fear of how bad it's going to be. Who among the characters you come to like, to care about, will still be standing at the end? How deep will the scars be?

One of the hallmarks of a good murder mystery is that no stone is left unturned, and no secret is left unexposed. This is a sort of inverted murder mystery, and it comes to the same thing. Checkered pasts, private opinions, other lives – none of that is likely to survive the storm that is about to roll over this town. Scars? No one is getting out of this story without one.

The blurb talks about the plot being ripped from the headlines … I hate that. I do. I had to stop watching "Law & Order" long ago, because it made me queasy to see real people's pain being used for yet another mediocre drama. But … Laurie R. King. There's a big difference between a thinly veiled fictionalization of something that just happened, where the people involved are probably still in pain, and this: a tale that is in a way a composite of true horrors without trying to cash in on any specific real grief. It's all the grief and anger and horror of all those senseless days. It's catharsis.

I sincerely hope LRK continues to use her power for good. I trust her enough that – well, I read this. I don't think she'll ever lead me to a place I'll regret.

Favorite quote:
By Tuesday, she loved Guadalupe Middle School as ferociously as an elderly cat-lady with 712 runt kittens.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.
Profile Image for Merrily.
12 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2017
“Lockdown” is not the book you expect it to be – in a good way. When I started reading it, I thought I’d be reading a suspense story set in the midst of a situation with which we’ve all become too familiar: an armed intruder in a school. There is suspense, all right, but it’s more like the slow onset of a deadly fever, a serious of interlocking stories all leading up to an explosion – but not, perhaps, the one you’re expecting. The teachers, students and citizens around the Guadalupe Middle School on Career Day are all ordinary people, but like most ordinary people they have secrets, large and small, sinister and loving, surprising - and suspected. The question is which of these secrets will drive someone to kill? And who is the hero, who the villain? “Lockdown” keeps you guessing all the way through, and at the same time leads you to care deeply about the people you meet, from the principal with the colorful and widely travelled past to the student who may (or may not) have had a paranormal encounter. I want to read “Lockdown” again, because it’s so rich a book that I suspect I missed a number of good tidbits!
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Thomas Ray.
908 reviews314 followers
December 14, 2020
Lockdown, Laurie R. King, 2017

Told from many and varied perspectives, events surrounding a fictional mass at a middle school in a fictional town in an agricultural area south of San Jose, California, February 15, 2017.

2016, 2011, 2005 were Monday Halloweens: with the two following days of Día de Muertos, the craziness lasts from Friday dusk to Thursday morning.
Profile Image for Darcia Helle.
Author 30 books693 followers
May 18, 2017
I wish I could join in the praise for this book. Laurie King has an engaging writing style that I truly enjoyed reading. She has the ability to put me right in the moment with the characters, so I feel their emotions and the turmoil of the situation. Unfortunately, this story just didn't work for me stylistically.

Virtually every character in this book has a narrating part, and there are a lot of characters. We shift narrator every few pages. The switch is clear, as the chapter heading gives us the narrator's name, but for me these short vignettes lacked the coherent feel of a solid story. Most of the characters don't start intersecting paths until halfway through the book. Each section on its own is a compelling read, but there are too many things going on. It's a bit of sensory overload.

To further hinder the story's flow, we also have quite a few flashbacks. We go back thirty years, in several different chapters, to see how a particular couple met. While some of that information eventually plays into the present timeline, it detracted too much from the immediacy of the story. Then we also go back eleven months for another character's memories.

The interruptions in the present timeline, combined with the ever-revolving cast of characters feels too disjointed, making it difficult for me to focus and stay connected. I respect the author's approach here. Individually, each character fascinated me. But, as a whole, the story didn't move me as it otherwise could have.

*I received an advance review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Donna.
1,813 reviews3 followers
July 18, 2017
Career Day comes to Guadalupe Middle School in California. Principal Linda McDonald took over the troubled school a year ago and Career Day is her idea. Someone else has big plans for this day too and not in a good way. The jacket of the book promises an "explosive confrontation". The story takes us through the hours prior to this event.

The chapters are narrated by maybe a dozen different characters, including both adults at the school and several teenagers attending class there. Many of the chapters were very short, not even one full page. In one way, this was a bit choppy but on the other hand, we get to see lots of character development in different ways. And this book is very much character driven suspense. I almost wore a hole in the pages flipping back and forth to the cast of characters in the front of the book. But once I figured out who everyone was, I looked forward to their stories.

I didn't know what the explosive event was going to be, although I had a guess. I also theorized that someone in the main cast of characters would cause the event. In fact, the author led us to believe one student had mental problems and one was filled with rage and I bought it. Well, I was wrong. The suspense really picked up in the last quarter of the book and my heart was pounding as the event happened.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
413 reviews38 followers
January 27, 2020
"Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: a day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget."

I finished this a week ago and, due to current events, forgot to rate it. Although it shares qualities with King's previous mysteries-intricate plotting, interesting characters with lots of secrets, a distinct atmosphere, and excellent dialogue, it's very different from her other series and stand-alones, and it's difficult to review without spoilers. Laurie explains that it began with a collection of short stories that she came to realize had a connection. What results is a very fast moving narrative of a middle school crisis; the momentum is increased by short chapters narrated from the POVs of the different characters which connect to the next chapter often in mid-sentence. The best characters, for me, were the kids, and King perfectly captures the fluidity and angst of adolescent and pre-adolescent mindsets and perceptions in different stages of maturation. What might have been a somewhat predictable, often-told story in the hands of a less skilled writer is fresh and enjoyable.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
2,294 reviews43 followers
June 13, 2017
Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School

This story started out kind of slow for me. It took me a while to untangle the characters and figure out their relationships to each other. The story is told from many points of view, which didn't help the bit of a chaotic start.

Another reason the book was hard to get into is a formatting style I'm seeing more and more. There was no line spacing between paragraphs and only a one space indent at the start of each new paragraph. This is a difficult style to read. The short chapters with changes in POV actually helped break up what otherwise looks like one solid block of narrative.

But I persevered because the story interested me enough to keep going and about 25% in everything started falling in place and I ended up really enjoying the tale.

I enjoyed many of the characters and the ending actually surprised me. It went a different direction than I thought it was going to.

I received this book from Random House through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.
Profile Image for Viccy.
1,981 reviews4 followers
September 14, 2017
This was different from any other Laurie R. King book I have ever read...a novel written from the perspective of almost every character involved in the narrative: the school principal; her husband; the school's janitor; several students at Guadalupe Middle School, as well as the local police sergeant. One day last fall, Bee Cuomo disappeared and no one knows why. One of her friends thinks her father killed her. A local gangbanger is on trial for murdering a young girl. A prominent businessman in San Felipe is about to lose his business. Principal Linda McDonald has her own secrets, but she wants to have a Career Day to demonstrate to the students that there might actually be a way out of the poverty grinding down the majority of the citizens in San Felipe. This event will bring together a disparate group of people, all of whom have something to hide. And the day will end in bloodshed. As the narrative reveals each person's secret, the tension builds to the chilling shooting that leads to the school's lockdown.
Profile Image for Wendy.
512 reviews12 followers
Want to read
June 1, 2017
WooHoo! I won a GR Giveaway copy of this book. I enjoyed King's Mary Russell novel (I've only read one so far), so am excited to read this new stand-alone book!
Profile Image for Charlotte Miller.
Author 21 books19 followers
May 15, 2017
New York Times bestselling Laurie R. King never disappoints, and she is at the top of her game with her outstanding standalone psychological thriller Lockdown. It is Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School, a day that starts with students’ dreams of the future and that threatens to end in violent confrontation. There are secrets here, myriad stories woven together of students and staff, people you come to know and care about in a breathtaking read that will keep you up turning pages late into the night. For a tightly written, suspense-filled read, this is one that should not be missed.

(Advance Reading Copy obtained by request from NetGalley.)
21 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2017
With its ominous title, this book intrigued me but I felt a touch of dread that the violence the title portends would be fulfilled. But of course this is a Laurie R. King novel so that is only part of the story.
When one of the central characters, Linda McDonald is introduced I was hooked. She arrives as a missionary in the highlands of New Guinea and wends her way back to the States to the rural community of San Felipe, as the principal of the Guadalupe Middle School.
The story is skillfully woven together through student's lives, their families, interactions with Linda, her mysterious husband, school personnel and Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School. We see events of Career Day through the filters of multiple characters' perspectives as events come together in the suspenseful culmination of the title event, Lockdown. Happily their stories don't quite end there, with snippets of lives continuing on and the wisp of anticipation of possibly another novel with this group of characters.
It is a story about tragedy but additionally about coming of age, friendships, families, and trust.

I was fortunate to read a copy of this book through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Tonstant Weader.
1,180 reviews66 followers
May 23, 2017
A troubled middle school in a poor urban neighborhood is experiencing a rebirth thanks to a decimated and gifted principal named Linda along with the subtle wisdom of Tío the janitor. Of course, there are others, teachers, parents, students who all contribute to the school coming together in spite of the odds and the odds are tough. A beloved little young girl named Bea has disappeared, nearly breaking her friends, particularly young Nick. Then there was the murder of one student’s babysitter by another student’s brother and the divided loyalties that created as one student is now testifying against the killer. But it’s Career Day, a special day exploring hopes and dreams as well as the challenges and realities of their futures.

The story progresses in several short, short chapters, a tick tock of their lives from midnight to just after noon. There are a few interstitial chapters that give background and context. There are some case notes from Nick’s school counselor. Students are preparing for the day, some with anger and some with fear. Some feel as though today is the day for drastic action. You know something is about to happen, the tension builds inexorably. We follow several students and staff and even a local police officer there to talk about her job for Career Day….and yet I was still surprised. It was always fair, but so surprising.

Laurie R. King has created some memorable series characters during her long, impressive writing career. There’s Mary Russell, Sherlock Holme’s fearless and peerless wife. Then there is Kate Martinelli, the San Francisco police detective. She mines the era between the wars with Stuyvesant & Grey. She’s recently moved away from series and Lockdown stands on its own. I will say, though, it was a pleasure to encounter a favorite character from the Kate Martinellis series who pops up to give a little bit of help to the cop.

I enjoyed Lockdown very much. The pace kept getting faster and faster and faster. It is an ambitious story and suggests another novel that must be written, the story of Bea. But then I want a sequel with Gordon and Linda, too. So I am greedy. And that brings up the one flaw in Lockdown. It is not one story, it is many stories. There is the school tragedy thriller, the mercenaries and revenge thriller, the haunted house and multiverse adventure, and surely Tío has more stories in him, too. There’s an incomplete quality. We rush headlong to the crisis, then the denouement is wrapped up in a few paragraphs…with a short coda. I think King fell in love with these characters and overloaded this book with too many who are too interesting. I know that’s an odd criticism, I know, but it made the book feel unfinished for me. Which means King needs to get busy and give us more of these endearing people.

Lockdown will be released June 13th. I received an e-galley in advance from the publisher through NetGalley.

939 reviews10 followers
July 13, 2020
It isn't a spy-fiction story but it is definitely a thriller so there we are.
I didn't buy this one when it came out as I usually do with MS King's books because I was a teacher and there was a lot of talk about school safety and just before I retired what classes were to do if there was a lockdown was the subject of several drills. It just seemed a little too close to home. As it was I was able to deal with it without much of a panic. My husband picked it up on his weekly shopping trip and I decided enough time had passed.
Having each piece of story headed with a character's name and the time marked boldly so you can feel the time creeping slowly by is a very good technique for building tension and pausing every little while to give us a character's back story is helpful in many ways. Taking Linda and Gordon back to Papua New Guinea so you can see how they met all those years ago was good, although we never do really get all of Gordon's background clear. It was certainly appropriate that Gordon and Tio became friends and you wonder how much of each other's background they figured out. I loved meeting Kate Martinelli and her Fool again and "the sound of a child in the background" before Kate closed the door.
Our school practice was almost identical to that of Guadeloupe except that we had no siren. We just had a loudspeaker announcement about "Dr. Green" being in the school. It was felt that that was less upsetting to children and as our school was K to 7 that was important to help keep children quiet.
It doesn't matter if you work out what is going to explode because by that time everything is suddenly moving so swiftly that you just want to see how it will all end.
I didn't read it just before going to bed but no negative effects otherwise. Very good indeed.
Profile Image for Nancy.
631 reviews20 followers
July 20, 2017
3.5 stars
Remember when "active shooter'' wasn't part of our everyday vocabulary? I didn't think I was up for Laurie R. King's new standalone Lockdown (Bantam, digital galley), no matter how timely, having seen way too much of the real thing on the evening news. But King delivers more than a tick-tock countdown of Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School, which begins with the high hopes principal Linda McDonald has for her diverse student body. The school bubbles with "hormones and suppressed rage, with threats all around it,'' and is currently troubled by a murder trial involving student gang members and the mysterious disappearance of a seventh-grade girl. Readers are aware of a more ominous hazard headed toward the school -- a heavily armed white van -- but not who is driving. As the minutes go by, King switches among many perspectives -- various students and teachers, the principal, her husband, the school janitor, a cop on duty at the school, parents preparing to participate in career day -- and a number of backstories emerge. Perhaps there are too many, given that several could have made books on their own. Still, by the time the action really begins, readers are invested in a handful of sympathetic characters who may not survive lockdown.
from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever
Profile Image for Erin.
578 reviews28 followers
June 5, 2017
I was super excited to be gifted an ARC of this book because I love all of Ms. King's other stand-alone novels; she does such amazing suspense stories. Like so many others, I didn't much care for how much the narrative bounced between such a huge cast of characters. It kind of felt like a game of duck-duck-goose; going round and round to each character in turn to see how they each might be responsible for whatever bad thing you could feel coming. The very short segments really kept me from truly getting wrapped up in the story, though; I never had enough time to really start to care about the perspective of any of the characters, so I didn't feel compelled to keep reading. Even so, Ms. King is such a master writer that I appreciate what she was doing with this book, even if it wasn't really for me. What I enjoyed the most were the cameos. If you're an LRK fan and have read most of her work, you'll find some old friends peeping into this book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 473 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.