Cover Image: Metropolis


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Member Reviews

I love reading books set in Boston and I love mysteries but this was not it. My three biggest qualms with it:

-The writing. Specifically, it's written in third-person present tense which some very skilled writers can pull off, but B.A. Shapiro was nowhere near that level. Instead, the whole narrative comes off as wooden, even (or especially) when the characters are expressing emotion.

-The Zach and Serge storylines. Aside from one plot device at the very end that relates to the rest of the characters, this whole storyline could have been scrapped and basically nothing would have been changed. Most of Zach's chapters are just him developing photos which is basically as interesting to read as a phonebook, and Serge's chapters are basically one giant loose end.

-Marta's dissertation. She writes about the "race of life" in terms of social inequality, a concept that's more or less the most basic building block of sociology. Even the metaphor that she uses is probably taught in every Sociology 101 class, if not in high school. And somehow, everyone acts like she just invented something so genius that they have NEVER considered the fact that American society might not be equitable. Even the black lawyer character has never thought of that! Nevermind that in reality, she wouldn't even be accepted into a PhD program, let alone be encouraged or paid to conduct research on something that is this basic and has been already proven many, many times.

I wouldn't have finished it if it weren't compelling, but man, I really wish this was better.

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B. A. Shapiro veers off from her usual historical fiction with this gem of a novel set in a storage facility outside of Boston. An outstanding cast of characters make up this fascinating read, which includes a mystery and a lot of suspense. Who knew that people actually live in storage units? The character development is excellent and the story is interesting and unbelievably unique. This will be a huge hit with readers.

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Four tenants of a self-storage facility in Boston use their space for more than just storage. They find their lives becoming intertwined with each other's, along with the building owner and secretary. Then an elevator accident proves catastrophic for everybody. Shapiro never fails to elicit sympathy for the characters, despite their flaws and bad choices. The detailed Boston setting and in-depth legal discussions (You'll know a lot more about immigration law than when you started!) add to the authenticity of the story.

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Having read and enjoyed Shapiro's art-related books, I was anxious to read her newest work. Quite different from the Art Forger or Collector's Apprentice. Set in Boston, like some of her other books, the city is almost like another character. Metropolis is an unusual and compelling story. Told from the perspectives of several different people, all associated with the Metropolis storage facility- the owner with a shady past, an employee struggling to make ends meet who faces temptation, a wealthy wife with an abusive husband, and more. Each character has experienced some kind of loss or trauma that brought them to Metropolis and I was always left wondering and wanting more of their stories. The way the timelines go back and forth helped make the story interesting and complex as it revealed, layer by layer, how all of the events and people fit together. Strong characters, mystery, romance, and more.

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This is an interesting kind of whodunnit story. It is a glimpse into the lives of renters through the lense of a photographer who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. I think fans of Only Murders in the Building or mysteries full of interesting characters will enjoy this one!

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Metropolis is a contemporary fiction novel about six individuals who, for one reason or another, are connected to the Metropolis Storage Warehouse in Boston. Throughout the story, the lives of the six characters intertwine or connect directly or indirectly until an accident forces them all into a messy situation.

I was instantly gripped by Metropolis. What I liked the most is how different all the characters are from each other in terms of background , situation, and complexity. BUT. Around halfway through the story, I started feeling like the character development was taking a turn for the worse. Most of the characters were suddenly becoming your typical cheesy, unrealistic, and shallow 'textbook' personalities. I almost felt like the author had to rush through to finish writing the book because of a deadline. Everything that was happening from around halfway was very predictable, and the character complexity lacked the initial creativity that was put into them. Liddy and Marta's love at first sight is so unreal it's almost fantastical, and really very cheesy and cringey, Garrett became your typical power-hungry vengeful antagonist, it's almost comical (wanting Liddy to simply come back to live with him, and he won't tell on Marta? How very predictably evil.)

I did enjoy the internal thoughts of the characters and all the assumptions that are later proven to be incorrect - I think that adds a nice layer to connect the readers with those characters. Rose is especially humorous and, despite being a racist inwardly, I liked her character because she is so unaware that her stereotypes and presumptions are racist; she is wholeheartedly genuine and never allows the racism to dictate her actions - she is just a woman with a really old-school (racist) mindset.

Questions I asked myself:
• why did Garrett send his kids to a boarding school, especially if Liddy is strongly opposed? It doesn't make sense that he would try to keep Liddy away from her children, because he was jealous?
• why did Jason decide to operate from a storage warehouse rather than rent a smaller office for himself? It didn't seem like he was lacking the money
• Serge seems to suffer from a condition but I couldn't figure out what. Amnesia? Bipolar disorder? Hallucinations?
• I understand that PIs can be really good at their jobs, but how is Garrett's PI better than the ICE officers who were trying to track down Marta? I would either like a really solid explanation or a more credible plot there.
• Garrett's only condition to not report Marta is to have Liddy move back into their house? That's it? Very cartoony antagonist and unrealistically evil in my opinion.
• When Liddy missed her kids while they were at boarding school, why didn't she go visit them more often? She really acted like they were dead when they were in Switzerland. Since she's rich and has no full-time job, why wouldn't she take a plane frequently to go visit them? It was never implied or stated that Garrett didn't let her travel, so why didn't she take those trips to see them and spend time with them?
• How did Garrett succeed in getting himself out of the investigation in the end? Bribing the entire city doesn't seem plausible at all.

And finally, I sound like a horrible person, but the happy ending for everyone (except poor Serge) just didn't do it for me. I don't think sad endings are the solution, but something just less happy than your typical happy ending where everything magically works out for everyone.

Overall: 3.5/5

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A whodunnit of sorts when a renter dies no one is sure if it is a suicide, accident or foul play at a self storage facility in Cambridge. The deceased was a street photographer with a unit bursting at the seams with undeveloped prints. As the owner of the storage facility and others probe deeper into the life of the photographer and his subjects the secret lives of some of the other renters comes to the surface. These tenants are diverse and all have their own reasons for being at Metropolis - an undocumented college student finishing her dissertation , a depressed and lonely mother who hides in the unit made up of her children's bedroom furnishings, the attorney who gave up the big office to work out of the storage unit and the office manager who looks the other way for a bit more cash. Told in an alternating time line before and after the incident. Their stories come together for an interesting ending. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

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America runs on Coca Cola. Plenty of caffeine and enough sugar to bounce you off the walls at times.

America also runs on its never-ending storage units. that line the landscape in every small town and big metropolis around the country. It's like that sugar bounce from Coca Cola. You buy "stuff" and then run out of room in your house or apartment. Storage Unit. Then you buy more "stuff"to replace the "stuff" no longer in sight but out of sight. Storage Unit. Then you visit your "stuff" in order to make room for the aging new "stuff". additional Storage Unit. The American Never Ending Story.

Zach Davidson invested in one of the largest storage buildings in Cambridge called the Metropolis. It's a monster of a complex. B.A. Shapiro adds a snippet of a detail here. Zach is forced to transfer his building to the new owner. A body was found in an elevator shaft there. Shapiro doesn't put a name tag on the individual quite yet. In the meantime, we readers are dancing around the hole in the ice.

An auction is being held to sell off the contents of 22 abandoned units. Oh, the "stuff" that must be locked away there. Just think of the treasures existing only in the minds of their previous owners. Is that Junk or Junque?

Shapiro has created six characters that will give us whiplash as we follow their backstories and their trail of "stuff". Rose is the office manager who runs a little side business involving the renters. Jason is a lawyer who lost his last job and uses one of the units as his office. Marta is a doctoral candidate at Boston University who is living in one of the units to hide from ICE. Serge is a homeless photographer with a remarkable collection stored there. And Liddy is married to one of the richest men in Boston. LIddy has an ingenious plan to finally break away from the abuse at his hands.

Metropolis reminds us of just how much we are all living in the Zone. The Zone is where your treasures are.......what is important to you and what you can't live without. These six characters will shift around and resettle time and time again until a new vision comes to light. They will be forced to prioritize for the first time. Shapiro has them crossing paths intentionally and unintentionally. The results will be one heck of a read. Metropolis is highly creative and original. There's a lot of curious "stuff" in this one, Folks. Unpack carefully........

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Algonquin Books and to B.A. Shapiro for the opportunity.

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So entertaining and engrossing! After a tragic accident (or was it a calculated accident!?), the owner and patrons of Metropolis Storage become the focus of law suits, investigations, and more. Told in alternating time lines of before and after, over the course of a year we encounter the owner, three renters who have secretly taken up residence, a lawyer using a storage unit as his office as he establishes his solo practice, and the office manager who keeps things running and profits from those who use Metropolis as their clandestine homes. Touching on illegal immigration, domestic abuse, mental illness, homelessness, and ill-gotten gains, the lives of those somehow attached to Metropolis become intertwined and connected before and after the building is shut down. Very twisty and fast paced - highly recommend for fans of psychological fiction and thrillers.

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Metropolis is an engaging book, but I found too many disconnected story lines, and the ending was not satisfying. The book has a photographer with an unmentioned mental illness, a undocumented refugee, an abused wife, a high powered lawyer who has fallen from grace, an office manager trying to make ends meet-and they are all connected by a storage facility. While I enjoyed the book, I felt the story could have been tightened up a bit. I have really loved BA Shapiro's previous books, most notably The Art Forger. This one, however, did not live up to my expectations..

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Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro
Thank you to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 17th, 2022.

Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 4/5
The Metropolis is an old fashioned self-storage unit in Boston — with variable sized units many of which have windows. The best part of this book is the peek into the lives of those who have found themselves in need of excess storage space and the way they use said space. Liddy Haines, wife of the uber wealthy (and not terribly nice) Garrett Haines, keeps her children’s things in the unit when they are shipped off to boarding school courtesy of the not-nice daddy; Jason, the black Harvard educated lawyer who found himself at odds with his corporate employer, houses his office there; Marta, a beautiful Venezuelan on the run from ICE, has moved in, feverishly focussing on her Sociology PhD thesis on how disparities at birth play out in life; and Serge, a brilliant and increasingly mentally disturbed photographer.

The unit is owned by Zach as an effort to go legit and managed by Rose who has her own set of issues. Everything is going along tickety-boo until an “incident” occurs in the unit elevator…

I love the premise of the story — who doesn’t think about all the diverse lives contained in such a collection of rooms with no other commonality? The characters were well-drawn and relatable, though I found their situations were all over-the-top and each was a little tropish. I always love her art commentary, in this case focused on Serge’s extraordinary photographs.

A fun read!

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This is an intriguing book. It was quite fun to learn about the characters, and the author did a great job developing them as well! The different timelines maybe need some fine tuning as it was a fairly difficult transition to get used to. Overall this was a good read and I look forward to more books by this author.

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Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro The flow of the story seemed unusual at the beginning.....present day to future day either that or I got it turned around. All the characters were interesting in their own unique way. Even the building had an interesting story with all the different storage units and Serge's photographs. Serge's photography art was easy to visualize with the author's descriptive narrative. That would be a artist's showing that I would definitely be wanting to see. Marta and Liddy appeared aloof and hard to related to. Jason, Rose and Serge's stories seemed to be more realistic. Zach was a surprise. The mystery was resolved in an interesting way. Kept reading far longer into the night than had intended. My first read by Ms Shapiro and will be looking into her back list and forward to her future books.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.

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