Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Book Summary)

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Derek Cutter and Adam Langley are best friends and neighbors. When Adam and his parents went on a vacation for a week, Derek decided to use their basement. Since the Langleys will not be around, he can use the basement to spend time with Penney’s girlfriend.

When the Langleys left, and Derek was already getting everything ready for him and Penney – something went wrong. First, Penney told him that she got grounded because she had damaged their car. Second, the Langleys came home unexpectedly because Donna (Adam’s mom) was not feeling well. Derek is trapped in the basement because he doesn’t know how to explain why he is hiding. Worst of it all, there was suddenly a knock on the door. Based on what Derek heard, Albert Langley (Adam’s Dad) answered the door and got into an argument. Then, there was a gunshot. Next, he heard Donna’s (Adam’s Mom) footsteps, and there was another gunshot. Lastly, he heard Adam trying to run away, but there was still another gunshot. Derek was so scared he didn’t know what to do, so he just ended up going home and pretending like nothing happened.

The next day, everything was normal with Derek’s family. Derek works for his dad, Jim Cutter, for this summer. Derek’s mom, Ellen, called and informed them about what happened to the Langleys when they were at work.

The suspects were primarily people Albert has known since he is a lawyer. Aside from that, there was no other lead. However, there is someone Jim suspected – Conrad Chase. Conrad is an author, president at Thackery College, Ellen’s boss. Ellen also had an affair with Conrad – which Jim discovered through a note in her purse. And he eventually forgave Ellen for this. Jim thinks that it’s Conrad because of something Derek told him. When Derek was shown around the house to check if anything seemed out of place, he told Jim that the computer was no longer on the table. That computer was given by Agnes, one of Jim’s clients. Agnes’s son, Brett, owned the laptop, who jumped off the Promise Falls ten years ago. In that computer, there was a novel about a man who woke up one morning with a vagina instead of a dick. When Derek showed Jim a copy of this, Jim realized that he had already read this book. It is a book written and published by Conrad Chase. It was what made him famous. What made Jim doubt Conrad as the author is that Brett had already died 2 years before Conrad’s book was published.

After days of investigation, the police made an arrest. And to everyone’s surprise, it was Derek who got arrested. The police discovered that Derek had been lying. He said that he went home by 9PM. However, it showed that he called Penney later that evening using Langley’s telephone. His earring was also found in the master’s bedroom. (TRUTH: Derek admitted later on that he had sex with Donna, Adam’s mother. Donna asked him about his girlfriend and told him that he could teach him since he has never had sex before.)

While Derek was in jail, his parents tried to make ends meet because the lawyer was expensive. Jim continued his business, and he found someone to help him – Drew. He was really a hard worker, and he saved their lives when 2 men attacked Jim & Ellen one night. After this attack, Derek was released from prison. (TRUTH: It was Conrad’s wife who ordered those 2 men to attack Jim & Ellen because she was worried that the copy of the novel would ruin Conrad’s reputation.)

One of the two men that attacked got killed, the other one ran away. When the cops got the 2nd killer and asked Jim & Ellen to identify him, Ellen suddenly acted weird and didn’t identify the guy. (TRUTH: This is because Conrad asked her to do it. He also warned her that if she remembers the guy – his friends will get back to them.)

Ellen always takes into consideration what would Conrad feel. She handed him the disk that contained the copy of the novel. This is because Ellen did something she never told anyone. 10 years ago, Ellen found out that Conrad was about to steal Brett’s work, she decided to talk to Brett. Brett was Conrad’s student at that time. As an act to steal his novel, Conrad told him how terrible it is – and Ellen saw how sad he was, so she did something. When Ellen told Brett about Conrad’s plan, he took it the hard way. He cried and ran to the Promise Falls and threw his laptop. He was crying as he kept saying that he no longer cared, that Conrad could have the novel. Ellen followed him and tried to save the laptop. She held on to the computer and was nearly falling down – Brett turned around to save her. Brett could save her, but he couldn’t keep himself – and this is how he died. He didn’t commit suicide. Ellen didn’t know what to do, so she went to Conrad and told him what happened – and he was able to turn the events to his advantage by fully claiming the novel.

Jim still thinks that Conrad killed the Langleys because he found out that they have a copy of the novel, and he’s afraid that the truth might come out. But he wasn’t the one who killed them. Conrad is friends with Adam’s father, Albert. When Adam told his father about the novel they found, Albert immediately gave the computer to Conrad. The night the Langley’s died, Conrad has nothing to do with it because he already got the copy.

The person who killed the Langleys is Drew – the guy Jim Cutter hired while Derek was in prison. Drew told Jim that he lives in the neighborhood, tending his sick mother. He used to have a daughter, but she passed away. Every morning he stands outside their house, and Jim would pick him up. But one night, while Jim worked for the mayor, and both Derek and Drew handled the lawns, Jim got a call from Ellen telling him that she’s worried about Derek not being home yet. Jim worked for the mayor for extra cash to pay the lawyer, while Derek handled the business when he got out of prison. When Jim worried about where Derek could be, he looked for Drew, and he discovered that he didn’t live in the house he stood in front of each morning. (TRUTH: Drew robbed a bank, then went to prison and left his daughter. His daughter ended up as a hooker, and one of her customers was the mayor. His daughter’s name is Sherry Underwood. She was underage when the mayor hired her. It was a disaster – she bit his dick, and the mayor kicked her face. The mayor, Randy, called Jim, who was his driver at that time. When Jim found out that Sherry was underage, he punched the mayor in the nose. He also talked to Sherry. He wrote his name on her little notebook and told her that if she needed help, she should call him. But Sherry never called her. Sherry died one month ago, just in time when Drew got out of prison. Sherry told her everything she went through and Drew promised her that he would make it up to her. Since Sherry writes down the names of his customers, Drew kills the men on the list one by one. Since Jim was also in the notebook, he started looking for him to kill him. So the night the Langleys were killed, Drew was actually looking for the Cutters. He got into the wrong house because the mailbox with their name was in front of Langley’s house. He just realized his mistake when he saw it on the news the next day. )

To continue his agenda, Drew followed, Jim Cutter. It was to his advantage that Jim offered him a job. While working for Jim, Drew discovered that Jim tried to help Sherry Underwood. Drew even got angrier at Jim – because he had the chance to help her, but he never did. So he decided that he’d still kill him.

That night Jim discovered who Drew really is. Drew was already holding Derek and Ellen hostage in their house. To keep Derek and Ellen safe, Drew requested that the mayor announce the truth that he used an underage sex worker during his speech. Drew asked Jim to take a video of it and then bring the mayor after. When Jim showed the footage to Drew, he was stunned because the audience showed support after what he confessed. Drew got angrier and decided to kill Randy (the mayor) and Jim.

Drew was already aiming the gun at Randy, but Conrad suddenly barged in, and nobody noticed him – so Drew ended up shooting his head. This got Drew distracted, and they were able to take him down.

Conrad died that night, and Drew was sent to prison.

The Cutters decided to start a life somewhere else – to begin again as there were already too many bad memories at where they are.

Jim and Ellen decided to tell Agnes the truth about his son, Brett. They’d say to her that he didn’t commit suicide, so she would now stop blaming herself.

The End Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay.


List of Characters: 

          • Derek Cutter – Adam’s best friend / witnessed the murder
          • Adam Langley – Derek’s best friend / neighbor
          • Penney – Derek’s girlfriend
          • Donna Langley – Adam’s mom
          • Albert Langley – Adam’s dad
          • Jim Cutter – Derek’s dad
          • Ellen Cutter – Derek’s mom
          • Conrad Chase – author / Ellen’s boss / Ellen’s ex-lover
          • Agnes – Jim’s client
          • Brett – Son of Agnes who died years ago
          • Drew – the killer
          • Sherry Underwood – Drew’s daughter / used to be a hooker
          • Randy – the mayor who used Sherry Underwood


Published by

Forever Winter

Just reading and writing my way out of this messy adult life! I have transitioned from having piles of notebooks stacked underneath my bed from writing on the internet and allowing people worldwide to read.

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