If you’ve ever felt claustrophobic in an elevator, veteran author Angela Hunt’s latest novel will bring your worst nightmares to life. In THE ELEVATOR, Hunt offers a suspense-filled saga of three women trapped in an elevator during a destructive hurricane.
As in many of Hunt’s novels, it features interesting characters battling difficult circumstances; but in this story, almost all of the events take place over the course of a little more than 24 hours. She uses present-tense narration throughout and switches points of view among several different characters, including three women. Gina Rossman is a mother of three who is upset over her husband’s affair and ready for a showdown, face-to-face. Michelle Tilson is a savvy, single headhunter whose unexpected pregnancy causes her to press for marriage with her lover. Isabel Suarez is a Hispanic woman whose secrets --- both past and present --- are about to destroy the life she has created for herself.
Gina’s husband has always been a workaholic, but the days when she believed his excuses are long over. She has the results of a private investigator’s detective work in her hands, including a photo of a woman with “a youthful body that has not borne three children and invested its best years in Sonny’s dreams.” A receipt for a $43,000 diamond bracelet that wasn’t bought for Gina further fuels her rage. Grief-stricken, she ponders her next move --- and puts a pistol in her pocket.
Michelle is a 33-year-old hard-driving headhunter whose Tilson Corporate Careers brochures claim some statistics that don’t necessary bear close examination. Her childhood was full of difficulties, as the reader glimpses throughout the book in short flashbacks. A Tampa Tribune reporter is hot on the trail of a story about employment agencies who don’t meet their contractual obligations, and Michelle’s company is on the top of his list. Michelle has other troubles, though: she’s deeply in love with Parker, and when she discovers she’s pregnant, she’s ready to press him for a commitment.
Isabel is a poor office cleaner with a frightening past who is only at work during the impending hurricane because of her family’s desperate need for money. The offices she cleans are full of expensive items she can only dream of owning. When Isabel discovers a fur jacket and a beautiful diamond bracelet in one of the offices, circumstances begin to spiral out of her control.
The three women’s lives collide when they are trapped on an elevator in an office building during the onslaught of Hurricane Felix. There, the novel comes to a climax as they find that their pasts and futures are connected in a way they never could have imagined. With the roads to Lark Tower blocked off and cell phones useless, their lives are in the hands of elevator service technician Eddie Vaughn and his golden retriever, Sadie, who brave the storm to come to their rescue. But will they be in time?
Hunt’s prose is fresh and invigorating, with phrases such as “busy as a dentist in Hershey, Pennsylvania,” lending a bit of humor to the narrative. The pacing is quick, and somehow the “cliché” of “trapped in an elevator” seems believable in her capable hands. The characters are intriguing, and each is driven by a need for self-preservation that pulls the story along. Those Christian readers expecting a strong faith element will find that the inspirational themes are present but more subtle than usually found in this genre.
Although there is no happily-ever-after ending here, the story holds promise that some of the characters’ circumstances can be redeemed. Those who like a good escapist thriller should enjoy THE ELEVATOR. But you may hesitate the next time you push the “up” button.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on July 1, 2007