“Book Review: Barefoot in the Parking Lot”
Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
Vineet Verma explores the pressures that could drive well-meaning humans to kill.
Vineet Verma’s debut novel, Barefoot in the Parking Lot, is a classic murder mystery with twists and turns that kept me guessing Not only is it fast paced, but it has multiple murders, break-ins, and blackmail—a crime lover’s dream read.
Set near Silicon Valley, California, the novel starts with the murder of a tech mogul. Detectives Angela and Paul are soon assigned to the case and their investigation uncovers secrets, lies, and corporate espionage as they seek to close the case. Throughout the mystery, readers are transported through San Jose from Sunnyvale and Mountain View to Milpitas through Santa Clara and Los Gatos.
The novel wastes no time getting into the action. The plot builds steadily after establishing the primary mystery early on and soon throws in a delightful mix of action, thrills, and even a dash of the supernatural. The supernatural elements add a complex layer to the storytelling and plot development without venturing too far into horror territory.
Author Vineet Verma creates a diverse cast of characters in this one. Beyond the cultural diversity, the characters’ ages and socio-economic dynamics reflect a true rendition of American mystery. I particularly appreciated the Indian point-of-view characters as we get a taste of traditional Indian customs as we unravel the mystery at hand.
The author tactfully explores topics such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, mental illness, and bisexuality. Verma does an excellent job of highlighting how powerless victims of sexual assault and harassment can feel, especially when coworkers and allies with power turn a blind eye. He also balances conservative and liberal views quite well. However, I do wonder if the message could have been stronger if certain characters are vindicated despite the systemic perpetuation of harassment.
With such a large cast and multiple POVs, readers are bound to find a character to relate to, root for, and despise. Verma uses the cast of characters wisely to discuss the depravity and darkness that exists within us all. He develops characters’ motivations, histories, and deepest desires while maintaining flow and tension – and trust me, there’s plenty of tension.
Barefoot in the Parking Lot is a suspenseful mystery with a cast of characters that readers are going to love to hate. It’s well-paced, emotive, and even funny at times. The sharp dialogue and short chapters make this book as easy to read as it is enthralling.
Genre: Crime thriller
Print Length: 324 pages
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