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METROPOLIS by B. A. Shapiro: Book Review

There’s something a bit unsettling about a building full of storage units.  It’s almost like a hotel containing objects but no people.  The items inside are no longer needed or wanted, but yet they haven’t been given away, donated, or discarded.  They have some sort of hold on their owners, and often not in a healthy way.

The Metropolis Storage Unit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, isn’t your typical facility.  Rather than box-like storage buildings, which are commonly seen on the side of a highway, this is a high-rise in appearance, with two elevators serving its six floors.  It almost looks like a castle, with its round windows and towers.

Rose, the receptionist, sits at a desk in a space that comprises three units, collecting the monthly rents plus a bit on the side from some of the tenants.  It’s not like she’s stealing from the owner, she rationalizes, it’s more like “thank yous” from those who need a little something extra that the building doesn’t usually provide.

There are two people living illegally in the building.  One is Marta, a student from Venezuela trying to complete her doctorate.  She’s grateful to Rose, but she’s not willing to explain why she needs to live there rather than in an apartment or graduate housing.

The other is Serge, a photographer who barely speaks to Rose, even when he hands her his monthly check plus that little bit extra.  The reason Rose knows he’s a photographer is because she’s let herself into his unit when she’s sure he’s not inside.  That’s strictly forbidden, but Rose isn’t doing anything wrong she tells herself, she’s just curious.

Liddy is renting one unit and wants to rent a second one.  Her current space is filled with toys and games and souvenirs belonging to her twin son and daughter who are currently enrolled in a Swiss boarding school.  Not because Liddy wants her children abroad, but because her husband, the fabulously wealthy and successful W. Garrett Haines III, has decreed it.  He also told her to get rid of all the “childish things,” but she can’t bring herself to do that.  Thus storage, obviously unknown to her husband.

Jason, a once up-and-coming attorney, has his office in the Metropolis.  He had been a partner at a large Boston law firm until he did something illegal but morally defensible.  Embarrassed to tell his family that he was let go, he’s pretending he’s still at the firm while working out of the storage building.

Then there’s an accident in one of the elevators, an accident that will turn the lives of these people upside down.  What will Rose, Serge, Marta, Liddy, and Jason do when their secrets are revealed?

Metropolis will have readers turning page after page, unwilling to wait to find out the end of the story.  B. A. Shapiro has written an enthralling mystery with characters that are only too real in today’s world.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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