Cover Image: Look Both Ways

Look Both Ways

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Member Reviews

This story hooked me before I even started reading. The notion that driverless cars could unite and turn on the people in their community intrigued me and once I started reading, I was well and truly committed. There is a large cast of characters. Some of them like Sandra Montrose and her children Katie and Archie are likeable, while others like Brandon Kyle are questionable, to say the least. 
Industrial sabotage and revenge are key driving forces throughout this story, but it was the cars that really kept me reading. Every single time I thought the cars were beaten they found a new way to torment, hunt down and murder their hapless victims. 
I read this story long into the night and couldn’t stop until I’d finished. This is a brilliant book!
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EXCERPT: Speaking neither to Katie nor Archie, Sandra said, 'Gracie, open.'

From somewhere under the car, maybe the vents at the base of the windshield - came a voice. Feminine, but not overly so. Personable, but at the same time not overly familiar.

'Good morning, Sandra. It would be my pleasure.'

'I think she sounds hot,' Archie whispered to his sister.

Katie whispered back, 'She might be the best you ever get.'

The door on the passenger side - both sides, actually, were passenger sides - popped out an inch, then slid back on a track to allow access. There were two seats in the front and two in the back. A gleaming black touchscreen dash ran across the bottom of the windshield.

There was no steering wheel.

ABOUT 'LOOK BOTH WAYS': The media have descended on Garrett Island, a small, isolated community that is the setting of a visionary experiment. All the residents’ cars were sent to the mainland and for the past month the islanders have been “driving” the Arrival, a revolutionary autonomous vehicle. With a simple voice command, an Arrival will take you wherever you want to go and, because the fleet is networked and aware of one another, car travel is now 100% safe. The future, it seems, has arrived.

As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Sandra Montrose – islander, single mom, and public relations executive – prepares for Arrival Inc.’s flashy press event. Sandra is more than ready for this new world. Her husband died after falling asleep at the wheel and she’s relieved that her two teens, Archie and Katie, will never need driver’s licenses.

But as the celebratory day gets underway, disaster strikes. A visiting journalist has vanished, possibly murdered. Before long, the Arrivals run amok, no longer taking orders from their passengers. They’re starting to organize. They’re beginning to hunt. And they seem hell-bent on killing any human they encounter.

Is this all just a tragic accident, a technological malfunction with deadly consequences? Or were the vehicles programmed to act this way in a cruel act of corporate sabotage? Or could it be that the Arrivals have a mind of their own?

MY THOUGHTS: Christine on steroids!

Linwood Barclay has taken every fear I had about self-driving cars and magnified them. I love it! But it's safe to say that I will be firmly hanging on to my traditional gas-guzzling car, thank you very much.

The choice of setting was brilliant - an Island accessible only by air and ferry, but the cars have them covered! Barclay's thought processes are scary. Not a man I would like to get on the wrong side of!

Yes, these cars are intelligent. And devious. And NASTY. Very, very nasty. They're also very quiet. Able to sneak up on you.

But it's not only the cars who are nasty. There are some very nasty characters. Not saying who . . . that you can discover for yourself. There are also some lovely characters. Sandra for one. A widow with two teenage children whom she loves more than anything. Bruce, the man across the road who, Archie is convinced is a serial killer, is a surprisingly wonderful character. As is Katie, Sandra's daughter.

Look Both Ways is fast-paced with plenty of action. It's exciting. It's scary. It's also possible . . .


#LookBothWays #NetGalley

I: @linwoodbarclay @harlequinaus

T: @linwood_barclay @HarlequinAus

#contemporaryfiction #crime #horror #mystery #smalltownfiction #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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Linwood Barclay opens Look Both Ways with a foreward in which he tells us of his father's love of cars - one he inherited. As a result, he describes his latest release as a bit of a departure from his usual style. It's less of a 'whodunnit' and more of an action-packed thriller.

It didn't entirely work for me but (then again) I'm more interested in something plot-driven rather than action-driven. I can certainly imagine this on the big or small screen however; where belief can be suspended and the fast-paced visuals drive the narrative. That said, the pacing (plot-wise) works well in the book as the action doesn't let up from the opening to the very last page.

This opens with a bang. The prologue seemed a bit too soon to climax so I wondered where Barclay would go from the opening sequence featuring a car that takes its instructions far too literally. We later learn the company making the ground-breaking self-driving car (the Gandalf) collapses as a result of the accident. The company's owner (Brandon Kyle) is sure it was sabotage (though I'm not entirely sure that was resolved) and is now obsessed with ruining his major competitor (Arrival).

Sandra's a likeable lead. We learn she lost her husband in an accident and is having a fling with the island's chief of police - Joe (ex big city cop returned to Garrett Island to care for his elderly mother). Joe's keen to move in with Sandra but she's reluctant and worried how her two teenagers will react.

Barclay only spends minimal time introducing us to Joe, Sandra and her family before we're into the action. It's Arrival's launch day and Sandra's being bombarded with requests from the company (particularly the boss and her offsider) who are VERY demanding. And not particularly nice. Journalists are all being ferried to the island and we meet (ex Gandalf CEO) Kyle, in disguise and posing as a journalist.

We're not exactly sure what he's got planned but it's obvious it'll involve either spying or sabotage and we soon learn which. Barclay offers a somewhat enigmatic character in Kyle. He doesn't seem that bad when we're introduced to him, we understand his life's work was destroyed and he's seeking payback. However things turn quickly and he realises he's in over his head... though ultimately cares little.

As the blurb suggests cars run amok, with their instructions 'Do No Harm' reversed. I suspect this is where the book (or a screen version) could border on horror as the bright, colourful sleek vehicles become killing machines. With no conscience and seemingly no off button.

Barclay offers Sandra as the lead protagonist and she's certainly fighting to find her children and ensure they're safe, but we also spend time with both teenagers, fighting for their lives. On top of which there is of course the fight of those on the island against the machines, expecting help to come when it doesn't.

Though we know whodunnit and why Barclay throws in a few surprises for good measure and gives readers a splendid climax. And there are obvious messages about technology, greed and ambition and their dangers when no limits are imposed.

As I said, I can see this working on screen and suspect [the book] will appeal to lovers of fast paced thrillers as well. Barclay's strong prose and characters are still present but muted a little here, for me, by the action.

3.5 stars
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Just because that car sees you doesn’t mean it’s safe to cross…
From the international bestseller Linwood Barclay comes a new, action-packed, utterly gripping crime thriller!

They think as one. They act as one. They kill as one.
The residents of Garrett Island are part of a visionary experiment. Their cars have been sent to the mainland and for one month, they’ve got self-driving vehicles called Arrivals. With just a voice command, an Arrival will take you where you want to go, and as the cars are all aware of each other, road accidents should be a thing of the past.

As the world’s press arrives for a glimpse of this driverless future, islander and single mom Sandra Montrose preps for the huge media event. She’s ready for this new world. Her husband died when he fell asleep at the wheel, and she’s relieved her two teens, Archie and Katie, may never need driver’s licenses.

But as the day gets underway, there are signs all is not well. A member of the press has vanished. There are rumours of industrial sabotage.

Before long, the sleek driverless cars are no longer taking orders. They’re starting to organize. They’re starting to hunt. And they’ve got the residents of Garrett Island in their sight.

This book didn't grip me in the beginning and I didn't think I'd like it but from the third chapter,  I was so glad I persisted with it because boy did it take me on one hell of a ride! It really made me think about how the world might be in the future and it was a bit scary. A gripping, unbelievable, futuristic read,  that is so unlike many other books I've read. I loved it! Thank you netgalley and harlequin Australia for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 
My rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5/5
#netgalley #lookbothways
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This book was crazy fun - and not in a bad way!

Sandra Montrose, a recent widow and resident of Garrett Island, an isolated community surrounded by water with only a ferry as the means to arrive and depart unless you owned a yacht, was preparing for the biggest day of her career. An executive in public relations, the residents of the island had all been "given" an Arrivals vehicle while surrendering their own to the mainland, and the day had arrived when the CEO of the Arrivals company would be on the island to spruik the benefits of a completely autonomous vehicle which would take its passengers wherever they wished to go. Programmed to obey their owner, the cars were deemed 100% safe. Sandra was nervous about the day, never realising what was about to happen.

With Sandra's teenagers, Archie and Katie, at home and as far as she knew, staying there, Sandra was free to meet the executives and the throng of media. But it wasn't long and things started to go wrong. The Arrivals stopped obeying their owners, and seemed to develop minds of their own. And as chaos swept over the centre then extended to Garrett Island's mall, the police, fire engine and ambulance tried to help. But they were blocked by determined Arrivals. And with Katie in the only "real" car on the island - an old Cadillac - with her neighbour, searching for Archie, the race was on! What had happened? Could anyone reverse what was happening with the Arrivals?

Look Both Ways is another highly entertaining and fun-filled jaunt by author Linwood Barclay, as he celebrates his life long love of cars and what might (probably won't) happen when automatic cars take over. As in Elevator Pitch where I said I doubted I'd look at elevator travel the same way again, I'm now mightily reluctant to ride in an automatic car!! Look Both Ways is a brilliant, imaginative novel which includes good guys and bad with the twist at the end something I wasn't expecting! Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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This is one crazy, wild ride of a novel!!

When the entire population of a small island off the coast of Massechusetts are persuaded to swap their cars for autonomous, self-driving vehicles, no one could have envisaged the mayhem that would occur. All was going well until the day of the company’s big press event, when the cars stopped listening to their owners’ commands and started to go rogue, acting in unison to cause death and destruction. It’s all pretty creepy and following on from John Marr’s Passengers might give you pause for thought when thinking about buying a self driving car sometime in the future. Until then, just sit back and enjoy the ride!
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Look Both Ways is a novel by best-selling Canadian author, Linwood Barclay. Arrival Inc. has taken the innovative and expensive step of swapping all the vehicles on Garrett Island, Massachusetts, with their self-drive cars for a one-month trial. This also necessitates paying disgruntled car dealerships, gas stations and the police to cover their projected income lost.

At the end of the one-month trial, the residents can take their own vehicles back or get a special deal on an Arrival autonomous car. Just prior, there’s a huge media event on the island, with Arrival Inc CEO Lisa Carver there to spruik her product, emphasising the safety directive of her creation: “Everything in an Arrival is designed to protect not just people in the car but people outside the car.”

Of course, there is some scepticism, and one among the media throng knows exactly how dangerous self-driving vehicles can be if their software is corrupted: that might be someone who believes he was the victim of industrial sabotage, someone with revenge in mind. Lisa Carter’s demonstration of her red Arrival, named Rudolph, doesn’t go to plan…

Soon enough, “The cars have gone crazy. They’re killing people. It’s like there’s a hundred Christines on the island.” Murderous cars with a hivemind are rampaging the streets, inside the shopping mall, and the island’s population is panicking. The press certainly have a story!

Barclay’s latest offers characters that are appealing or despicable as required: narcissistic CEOs; a gutsy widow; a clever and resourceful twelve-year-old boy; a reclusive neighbour with a handy secret; and one who is not as nice or sweet as first appears. He gives them entertaining dialogue, and also manages to feature a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, a coat of meat, quite a lot of violence with copious ensuing blood spilt, and some gruesome deaths.

This one is deliciously dark speculative fiction that doesn’t require a whole lot of suspension of disbelief, where the high body count will likely have readers wary of self-drive vehicles for some time to come. Gripping, often blackly funny, and quite thought-provoking.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Harlequin Australia HQ Fiction.
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Okay.  This is not what I expected and was just a little bit strange. Cars taking over an Island!

This is quite a long book for such a subject and I struggled to get into it although I know that many would love it.
It just didn't have a flow, the story was a bit off putting and and it didn't have the structure I was hoping for.  I don't mind a far-out story if it has somewhat of a believable plot.

I have to say I did skipped through a lot of it as it bored me and was a bit repetitive.

No for me I'm afraid!.
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Brrrrrrrom brrrrrrrom… (although on second thoughts, these cars don’t actually make that noise) Killer cars on the loose!

4 rounded up to 4.5.

The residents of Garrett Island are halfway through a month long trial experiment.
They’ve swapped their usual cars for brand spanking new Arrivals (named after the company that manufactured them) – autonomous, electronic, affordable, with a state-of-the-art onboard computer system, where comfort, safety, and efficiency are paramount.
Even the police force are in on the action – swapping their usual vehicles for black-and-white Arrivals.

It’s Press Day, and the media have swarmed to the Island for a Press Conference to showcase the Arrivals various benefits and features.
But, uh-oh, someone is about to enter a command into the Arrival program that will cause the cars systems to go haywire.
And, oopsie-daisy, all the regular cars are in a parking lot on the mainland.
As is the island’s ferry, and not only that, a fog is rolling in.
To make matters one hundred times worse, the cars aren’t just going berserk, they’re deliberately seeking out as many people to kill as possible.
And, they’re getting smarter at it!

Linwood Barclay’s latest novel was a mix of thriller, horror, and action. It was fast-paced, exciting, heart-pounding and nail-biting. Some suspension of belief was required, but it was all in good campy fun, and it was an enjoyable read from start to finish. The main character’s were phenomenal, which really elevated the material, considering the plot was occasionally silly in terms of what these smart cars were capable of. I cared deeply for these characters, and was praying they’d make it out alive. There were some surprising twists as well. And, I loved the island setting – how they were trapped and cut off by geography and metereology, and had to come up with inventive ways to outsmart, escape, and avoid the rampaging Arrivals.

Look Both Ways brought to mind several horror movies while reading. Does anyone remember the 1980’s slasher movie Chopping Mall? Well, basically, the Mall security robots get struck by lighting, and roll around terrorising teens after hours? And, let’s just say there were some similarities between that movie and this book. There was even a Mall connection. What about the movie Tremors from 1990, starring Kevin Bacon? Well, the cars in this reminded me of the giant worms, in that they came up with increasingly smarter ways to stalk their prey, as well as anticipate what they might likely do next. Then, there’s the commonality with Jurassic Park (you’ve all heard of that one right? If not, then you’ve been living under a rock). In both they were being pursued by something deadly, dangerous, unpredictable, and unexpected, they had island settings, with bad guys trying to escape said island before they could be found out, and bad weather also caused chaos.

This was unlike anything Linwood Barclay has ever written, although it is his second tech thriller, the first being Elevator Pitch which I couldn’t even make it 30% of the way through. If you liked Jeffrey Deaver’s – The Steel Kiss, or John Marr’s – The Passengers, or Chopping Mall/Tremors/Jurassic Parks, or action-driven (pun intended) near-future, tech horror thrillers, or even just cars in general, then this is the novel for you. Highly recommended!

I’d like to thank Netgalley, HQ Australia, and Linwood Barclay for the e-ARC.

Rev up for the 3rd August, 2022.
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If John Marrs’ book, Passengers, made you a little nervous about self driving cars, this one will freak you right out!

Garret Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, is the venue for a publicity campaign for the Arrival self driving car. All the islanders have been encouraged to give up their regular cars for a month in return for driving one of the brand new autonomous vehicles. Although driving is a misnomer as they don’t even have steering wheels. Touted as being the safest form of transport, they are programmed to protect life and obey all road rules. Sandra Montrose, an islander and PR expert, has been engaged to organise a bells and whistles launch function for the media.

Yet we become aware early in the story that all is not well. There are people who have a bone to pick with the Arrival company. As the launch party winds down and people start to summon their autonomous vehicles the do-do starts to hit the fan. The cars appear to be sentient, communicating with each other to harm as many people as possible. They are hunting in packs! 

What is happening? Is it a virus. Has the vehicle operating system been hacked? Who would do such a thing? And most importantly - how can it be stopped? Garret Island becomes like a war zone as these cars run amok. Sandra is desperate to find her two children who were supposed to stay safely at home - but in the way of 12 year old boys, making mischief is a much more attractive proposition. And his older sister is also desperate to find her brother because she know he drove off in one of these cars earlier. One of his friends’ father had programmed the vehicle to obey his son’s voice commands.

This was not as implausible as it initially sounds. The technology is almost there. I hope stories like this give developers enough pause for thought about iron clad safety features! It was a very entertaining read and it was all about the action which takes over the course of one day. A bit different from Barclay’s usual stories, it was nevertheless very enjoyable. I might be ready for an electric vehicle but I don’t think I’m ready for a self driving car just yet! Many thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Australia for the much appreciated arc which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.
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This is a very different book to the usual that Barclay writes.  It took at least a third of the way in before I started to get interested in the story. 
Have to say good on Barclay for going ahead with an idea he had that was different but honestly not one that I would want to read again.
Self driving cars that go rogue after a virus is introduced to their operating system. Chaos, killing and  a couple crazy people do make a story.  It is well written, as Barclay can always produce.
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The thing that makes this book so scary is that it could actually happen!  Technology is advancing rapidly and some of this tech is already in use which makes this book very believable.  This book is full of action and moves pretty quickly with a few plot twists along the way.

If you are liking character growth during the book - I would warn you that this book doesn't contain a lot of that. I personally didn't relate to the characters.  However it does have a nice nod to the authors personal history which is cool.  

I got this free in exchange for an honest review. We will be purchasing this for our libraries and will recommend it for readers who like action and technology related books.
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When I first read the blurb for this book I thought to myself that this book may not appeal to me. Then I saw that Linwood Barclay was the author so I decided to give it a go.

Wow am I glad I did, I started this yesterday afternoon after lunch and finished it before dinner time, I loved it. Who would have thought that self driving cars could be the basis for such a great storyline. I became totally engrossed in this full of action book. A great storyline around a small town that acts as the setting for the introduction of self driving cars to its community.  Normal vehicles were relinquished and each person was provided with the new car  which was meant to change the world, not just a small town.

I will not say to much so that I do not give away anymore of the storyline but this really is full of action, suspence and take your breath away moments. Like me you may not think that this book will appeal to you, but I encourage all other readers to give this a try, I do not think you will be disappointed. Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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