I know I have a lot of fans who love thrillers! I know that I love a great thriller especially on a lazy summer day. There is nothing like passing a couple of hours reading a truly captivating mystery with chilling or thrilling twists.
This summer one of the latest thrillers to be released is The Escape Room by Megan Goldin and I am ecstatic to share this excerpt with you all today!
Goldin has been highly praised by the well known thriller writer, Lee Childs, and her first novel won rave reviews from readers too. If you are looking for something new and fast paced to read then come check out this sneak peak excerpt and see if it’s something that catches your fancy—I know I thought it sounded enticing!
Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to reach the top.
When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.
The biggest mystery to solve in this lethal game: What happened to Sara Hall? Once a young shining star—”now gone but not forgotten”.
This is no longer a game.
They’re fighting for their lives (summary from Goodreads).
It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning. The young security guard
spoke in an unsteady voice, fear disguised by cocky nonchalance.
Miguel had been an aspiring bodybuilder until he injured his back lifting boxes in a warehouse
job and had to take night- shift work guarding a luxury office tower in the final stages of
construction. He had a muscular physique, dark hair, and a cleft in his chin.
He was conducting a cursory inspection when a scream rang out. At first, he didn’t hear a thing.
Hip- hop music blasted through the oversize headphones he wore as he swept his flashlight
across the dark recesses of the lobby.
The beam flicked across the classical faces of reproduction Greek busts cast in metal and inset
into niches in the walls. They evoked an eerie otherworldliness, which gave the place the aura of
Miguel paused his music to search for a fresh play list of songs. It was then that he heard the tail
end of a muffled scream.
The sound was so unexpected that he instinctively froze. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard
strange noises at night, whether it was the screech of tomcats brawling or the whine of
construction cranes buffeted by wind. Silence followed. Miguel chided himself for his childish
He pressed PLAY to listen to a new song and was immediately assaulted by the explosive beat of
a tune doing the rounds at the dance clubs where he hung out with friends.
Still, something in the screech he’d heard a moment before rattled him enough for him to be
He bent down to check the lock of the revolving lobby door. It was bolted shut. He swept the
flashlight across a pair of still escalators and then, above his head, across the glass- walled
mezzanine floor that overlooked the lobby.
He checked behind the long reception desk of blond oak slats and noticed that a black chair was
at an odd angle, as if someone had left in a hurry.
A stepladder was propped against a wall where the lobby café was being set up alongside a water
fountain that was not yet functional. Plastic- wrapped café tables and chairs were piled up
In the far corner, he shone his flashlight in the direction of an elaborate model of the building
complex shown to prospective tenants by Realtors rushing to achieve occupancy targets in time
for the building’s opening the following month.
The model detailed an ambitious master plan to turn an abandoned ware house district that had
been a magnet for homeless people and addicts into a high- end financial and shopping precinct.
The first tower was almost finished. A second was halfway through construction.
When Miguel turned around to face the elevator lobby, he was struck by something so
incongruent that he pushed his headphones off his head and onto his shoulders.
The backlit green fluorescent light of an elevator switch flickered in the dark. It suggested that an
elevator was in use. That was impossible, because he was the only person there.
In the sobriety of the silent echo that followed, he convinced himself once again that his vague
sense of unease was the hallucination of a fatigued mind. There was nobody in the elevator for
the simple reason that the only people on- site on weekends were the security
guards. Two per shift. Except to night, Miguel was the only one on duty.
When Stu had been a no- show for his shift, Miguel figured he’d manage alone. The construction
site was fenced off with towering barbed- wire fences and a heavy- duty electric gate. Nobody
came in or out until the shift ended.
In the four months he’d worked there, the only intruders he’d encountered were feral cats and
rats scampering across construction equipment in the middle of the night. Nothing ever happened
during the night shift.
That was what he liked about the job. He was able to study and sleep and still get paid.
Sometimes he’d sleep for a couple of hours on the soft leather lobby sofa, which he found
preferable to the lumpy stretcher in the portable office where the guards took turns resting
between patrols. The CCTV cameras hadn’t been hooked up yet, so he could still get away with
From the main access road, the complex looked completed. It had a driveway entry lined with
young maples in planter boxes. The lobby had been fitted out and furnished to impress
prospective tenants who came to view office space.
The second tower, facing the East River, looked unmistakably like a construction site. It was
wrapped with scaffolding. Shipping containers storing building materials were arranged like
colorful Lego blocks in a muddy field alongside idle bulldozers and a crane.
Miguel removed keys from his belt to open the side entrance to let himself out, when he heard a
loud crack. It whipped through the lobby with an intensity that made his ears ring.
Two more cracks followed. They were unmistakably the sound of gunshots. He hit the ground
and called 911. He was terrified the shooter was making his way to the lobby but cocky enough
to cover his fear with bravado when he spoke.
“Something bad’s going down here.” He gave the 911 dispatcher the address. “You should get
cops over here.”
Miguel figured from the skepticism in the dispatcher’s cool voice that his call was being given
priority right below the doughnut run.
His heart thumped like a drum as he waited for the cops to arrive. You chicken shit, he berated
himself as he took cover behind a sofa. He exhaled into his shirt to muffle the sound of his rapid
breathing. He was afraid he would give away his position to the shooter.
A wave of relief washed over him when the lobby finally lit up with a hazy blue strobe as a
police car pulled in at the taxi stand. Miguel went outside to meet the cops.
“What’s going on?” An older cop with a thick gut hanging over his belted pants emerged from
the front passenger seat.
“Beats me,” said Miguel. “I heard a scream. Inside the building. Then I heard what I’m pretty
sure were gunshots.”
“How many shots?” A younger cop came around the car to meet him, snapping a wad of gum in
“Two, maybe three shots. Then nothing.”
“Is anyone else around?” The older cop’s expression was hidden under a thick gray mustache.
“They clear out the site on Friday night. No construction workers. No nobody. Except me. I’m
the night guard.”
“Then what makes you think there’s a shooter?”
“I heard a loud crack. Sure sounded like a gunshot. Then two more. Came from somewhere up in
“Maybe construction equipment fell? That possible?”
A faint thread of red suffused Miguel’s face as he contemplated the possibility that he’d
panicked over nothing. They moved into the lobby to check things out, but he was feeling less
confident than when he’d called 911. “I’m pretty sure they—” He stopped speaking as they
all heard the unmistakable sound of a descending elevator.
“I thought you said there was nobody here,” said the older cop.
“Could have fooled me,” said the second cop. They moved through to the elevator lobby. A light
above the elevator doors was flashing to indicate an elevator’s imminent arrival. “Someone’s
“The building opens for business in a few weeks,” said Miguel. “Nobody’s supposed to be here.”
The cops drew their guns from their holsters and stood in front of the elevator doors in a shooting
stance— slightly crouched, legs apart. One of the cops gestured furiously for Miguel to move out
of the way. Miguel stepped back. He hovered near an abstract metal sculpture
set into the wall at the dead end of the elevator lobby.
A bell chimed. The elevator heaved as it arrived.
The doors parted with a slow hiss. Miguel swallowed hard as the gap widened. He strained to see
what was going on. The cops were blocking his line of sight and he was at too sharp an angle to
“Police,” shouted both cops in unison. “Put your weapon down.”
Miguel instinctively pressed himself against the wall. He flinched as the first round of bullets
was fired. There were too many shots to count. His ears rang so badly, it took him a moment to
realize the police had stopped firing. They’d lowered their weapons and were shouting
something. He didn’t know what. He couldn’t hear a thing over the ringing in his ears.
Miguel saw the younger cop talk into his radio. The cop’s mouth opened and closed. Miguel
couldn’t make out the words. Gradually, his hearing returned and he heard the tail end of a
stream of NYPD jargon.
He couldn’t understand most of what was said. Something about “nonresponsive” and needing “a
bus,” which he assumed meant an ambulance. Miguel watched a trickle of blood run along the
marble floor until it formed a puddle. He edged closer. He glimpsed blood splatter on the wall of
the elevator. He took one more step. Finally, he could see inside the elevator. He immediately
regretted it. He’d never seen so much blood in all his life.
Thirty-four Hours Earlier
Vincent was the last to arrive. His dark overcoat flared behind him as he strode through the
lobby. The other three were standing in an informal huddle by a leather sofa. They didn’t notice
Vincent come in. They were on their phones, with their backs to the entrance, preoccupied with
emails and silent contemplation as to why they had been called to a last-minute meeting on a
Friday night at an out-of-the-way office building in the South Bronx.
Vincent observed them from a distance as he walked across the lobby toward them. Over the
years, the four of them had spent more time together than apart. Vincent knew them almost better
than he knew himself. He knew their secrets, and their lies. There were times when he could
honestly say that he’d never despised anyone more than these three people. He suspected they all
shared the sentiment. Yet they needed one another. Their fates had been joined together long
Sylvie’s face bore its usual expression, a few degrees short of a resting-bitch face. With her
cover-girl looks and dark blond hair pinned in a topknot that drew attention to her green eyes,
Sylvie looked like the catwalk model that she’d been when she was a teenager. She was irritated
by being called to an unscheduled meeting when she had to pack for Paris, but she didn’t let it
show on her face. She studiously kept a faint upward tilt to her lips. It was a practice drummed
into her over many years working in a male-dominated profession. Men could snarl or look
angry with impunity; women had to smile serenely regardless of the provocation.
To her right stood Sam, wearing a charcoal suit with a white shirt and a black tie. His stubble
matched the dark blond of his closely cropped hair. His jaw twitched from the knot of anxiety in
his guts. He’d felt stabbing pains ever since his wife, Kim, telephoned during the drive over. She
was furious that he wouldn’t make the flight to Antigua because he was attending an
unscheduled meeting. She hated the fact that his work always took precedence over her and the
Jules stood slightly away from the other two, sucking on a peppermint candy to disguise the
alcohol on his breath. He wore a suave burgundy-and-navy silk tie that made his Gypsy eyes
burn with intensity. His dark hair was brushed back in the style of a fifties movie star. He usually
drank vodka because it was odorless and didn’t make his face flush, but now his cheeks were
ruddy in a tell-tale sign he’d been drinking. The minibar in his chauffeured car was out of vodka,
so he’d had to make do with whiskey on the ride over. The empty bottles were still rattling
around in his briefcase.
As they waited for their meeting, they all had the same paranoid notion that they’d been brought
to a satellite office to be retrenched. Their careers would be assassinated silently, away from the
watercooler gossips at the head office.
It was how they would have done it if the positions were reversed. A Friday-evening meeting at
an out-of-the-way office, concluding with a retrenchment package and a nondisclosure
agreement signed and sealed.
The firm was considering unprecedented layoffs, and they were acutely aware they had red
targets on their backs. They said none of this to one another. They kept their eyes downcast as
they worked on their phones, unaware they were the only ones in the lobby. Just as they hadn’t
paid much mind to the cranes and construction fencing on their way in.
Sam checked his bank account while he waited. The negative balance made him queasy. He’d
wiped out all the cash in his account that morning paying Kim’s credit-card bill. If he lost his
job, then the floodgates would open. He could survive two to three months without work; after
that, he’d have to sell assets. That alone would destroy him financially. He was leveraged to the
hilt. Some of his assets were worth less now than when he’d bought them.
The last time Sam had received a credit-card bill that huge, he’d immediately lowered Kim’s
credit limit. Kim found out when her payment for an eleven-thousand-dollar Hermès handbag
was rejected at the Madison Avenue store in front of her friends. She was mortified. They had a
huge blowup that night, and he reluctantly restored her credit limit. Now he paid all her bills
without a word of complaint. Even if it meant taking out bridging loans. Even if it meant
constantly feeling on the verge of a heart attack.
Sam knew that Kim spent money as much for attention as out of boredom. She complained that
Sam was never around to help with the twins. He’d had to point out that they’d hired a maid to
give her all the help she needed. Three maids, to be truthful. Three within the space of two years.
The third had walked out in tears a week ago due to Kim’s erratic temper.
Kim was never satisfied with anything. If Sam gave Kim a platinum necklace, she wanted it in
gold. If he took her to London, she wanted Paris. If he bought her a BMW, she wanted a Porsche.
Satisfying her unceasing demands was doable when his job prospects were good, but the firm
had lost a major account, and since Christmas word had spread of an impending restructure.
Everyone knew that was a euphemism for layoffs.
Sam never doubted that Kim would leave him if he couldn’t support her lifestyle anymore. She’d
demand full custody of the girls and she’d raise them to hate him. Kim forgave most of his
transgressions, she could even live with his infidelities, but she never forgave failure.
It was Sam who first heard the footsteps sounding through the vast lobby. The long, hurried
strides of a man running late to a meeting. Sam swung around as their boss arrived. Vincent’s
square jaw was tight and his broad shoulders were tense as he joined them without saying a
“You almost didn’t make it,” observed Sylvie.
“The traffic was terrible.” Vincent ran his hand over his overcoat pocket in the habit of a man
who had recently stopped smoking. Instead of cigarettes, he took out a pair of glasses, which he
put on to examine the message on his phone. “Are you all aware of the purpose of this meeting?”
“The email invite from HR wasn’t exactly brimming with information,” said Sam. “You said in
your text message it was compulsory for us to attend. That it took precedence over everything
else. Well, we’re all here. So maybe now you can enlighten us, Vincent. What’s so important
that I had to delay my trip to Antigua?”
“Who here has done an escape-room challenge before?” Vincent asked.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Sam said. “I abandoned my wife on her dream vacation to
participate in a team-building activity! This is bullshit, Vincent. It’s goddamn bullshit and you
“It will take an hour,” said Vincent calmly. “Next Friday is bonus day. I’m sure that we all agree
that it’s smart to be on our best behavior before bonus day, especially in the current climate.”
“Let’s do it,” said Sylvie, sighing. Her flight to Paris was at midnight. She still had plenty of time
to get home and pack. Vincent led them to a brightly lit elevator with its doors wide open. Inside
were mirrored walls and an alabaster marble floor.
They stepped inside. The steel doors shut behind them before they could turn around.
It’s remarkable what a Windsor knot divulges about a man. Richie’s Italian silk tie was a brash
shade of red, with thin gold stripes running on a diagonal. It was the tie of a man whose
arrogance was dwarfed only by his ego.
In truth, I didn’t need to look at his tie to know that Richie was a douche. The dead giveaway
was that when I entered the interview room, a nervous smile on my pink matte painted lips, he
didn’t bother to greet me. Or even to stand up from the leather chair where he sat and surveyed
me as I entered the room.
While I categorized Richie as a first-class creep the moment I set eyes on him, I was acutely
aware that I needed to impress him if I was to have any chance of getting the job. I introduced
myself and reached out confidently to shake his hand. He shook my hand with a grip that was
tighter than necessary—a reminder, perhaps, that he could crush my career aspirations as easily
as he could break the bones in my delicate hand.
He introduced himself as Richard Worthington. The third, if you don’t mind. He had a two-
hundred-dollar haircut, a custom shave, and hands that were softer than butter. He was in his late
twenties, around five years older than I was.
When we were done shaking hands, Richie leaned back in his chair and surveyed me with a
touch of amusement as I settled into my seat across the table.
“You can take off your jacket and relax,” he said. “We try to keep interviews informal here.”
I took off my jacket and left it folded over the back of the chair next to me as I wondered what he
saw when he looked at me. Did he see a struggling business-school graduate with a newly
minted MBA that didn’t appear to be worth the paper it was written on? Or was he perceptive
enough to see an intelligent, accomplished young woman? Glossy brown hair cut to a
professional shoulder length, serious gray eyes, wearing a brand-new designer suit she couldn’t
afford and borrowed Louboutin shoes that were a half size too small and pinched her toes.
I took a deep breath and tried to project the poise and confidence necessary to show him that I
was the best candidate. Finally I had a chance at getting my dream job on Wall Street. I would do
everything that I could humanly do not to screw it up.
Richie wore a dark gray suit with a fitted white shirt. His cuff links were Hermès, arranged so
that the H insignia was clearly visible. On his wrist was an Audemars Piguet watch, a thirty-
grand piece that told everyone who cared that he was the very model of a Wall Street player.
Richie left me on the edge of my seat, waiting awkwardly, as he read over my résumé. Paper
rustled as he scanned the neatly formatted sheets that summed up my life in two pages. I had the
impression that he was looking at it for the first time. When he was done, he examined me over
the top of the pages with the lascivious expression of a john sizing up girls at a Nevada
All the lights in the elevator turned off at once. It happened the moment the doors shut. One
moment they were in a brightly lit elevator; the next they were in pitch- darkness. They were as
good as blind, save for the weak fluorescent glow from a small display above the steel doors
showing the floor number.
Jules stumbled toward the elevator control panel. He pressed the button to open the doors. The
darkness was suffocating him. He had to get out. The elevator shot up before anything happened.
The jolt was unexpected. Jules lost his footing and fell against the wall with a thud.
As the elevator accelerated upward, they assumed the lights would be restored at any moment. In
every other respect, the elevator was working fine. It was ascending smoothly. The green display
above the door was showing the changing floor numbers. There was no reason why it should be
Without realizing it, they shifted toward one another, drawn together by a primordial fear of the
dark and the unknown dangers that lurked within it. Jules fumbled for his phone and turned on
the flashlight setting so that he could see what he was doing. He frantically pressed the buttons
for upcoming floors. They didn’t appear to respond to the insistent pressure of his thumb.
“It’s probably an express,” explained Sylvie. “I saw a sign in the lobby that said something about
the elevator running express until the seventieth floor.”
Jules pressed the button for the seventieth floor. And the seventy-first. And, for good measure,
the seventy- second, as well. The buttons immediately lit up one after the other, each button
backlit in green. Jules silently counted the remaining floors. All he could think about
was getting out.
He loosened his tie to alleviate the tightness in his chest. He’d never considered himself
claustrophobic, but he’d had an issue with confined spaces ever since he was a child. He once
left summer camp early, in hysterics after being accidentally locked in a toilet stall for a few
minutes. His mother told the camp leader that his overreaction was due to a childhood trauma
that left him somewhat claustrophobic and nervous in the dark.
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be taking the stairs on the way down,” Sam joked
with fake nonchalance. “I’m not getting back into this hunk of junk again.”
“Maybe the firm is locking us up in here until we resign voluntarily,” Jules said drily. “It’ll save
Stanhope a shitload of money.” He swallowed hard. The elevator was approaching the fortieth
floor. They were halfway there. He had to hold it together for another thirty floors.
“It would be a mistake if the firm retrenched any of us,” said Vincent. “I told the executive team
as much when we met earlier this week.” What Vincent didn’t mention was that several of the
leadership team had avoided looking at him during that meeting. That was when he knew the
writing was on the wall.
“Why get rid of us? We’ve always made the firm plenty of money,” Sylvie said.
“Until lately,” Vincent said pointedly.
They’d failed to secure two major deals in a row. Those deals had both gone to a key competitor,
who had inexplicably undercut them each time. It made them wonder whether their competitor
had inside knowledge of their bids. The team’s revenue was lower than it had
been in years. For the first time ever, their jobs were vulnerable.
“Are we getting fired, Vincent?” Jules asked as the elevator continued rising. “Is that why we
were summoned here? They must have told you something.”
“I got the same generic meeting invite that you all received,” Vincent responded. “It was only as
I arrived that I received a text with instructions to bring you all up to the eightieth floor for an
escape room challenge. The results of which, it said, would be used for ‘internal consultations
about future staff planning.’ Make of that what you will.”
“Sounds like they want to see how we perform tonight before deciding what to do with us,” said
Sylvie. “I’ve never done an escape room. What exactly are we supposed to do?”
“It’s straightforward,” said Sam. “You’re locked in a room and have to solve a series of clues to
“And on that basis they’re going to decide which of us to fire?” Jules asked Vincent in the dark.
“I doubt it,” Vincent said. “The firm doesn’t work that way.”
“Vincent’s right,” said Jules cynically. “Let’s take a more optimistic tack. Maybe they’re using
our escape room performance to determine who to promote to Eric Miles’s job.” Eric had
resigned before Christmas under something of a cloud. They’d heard rumors the firm was going
to promote someone to the job internally. Such promotions were highly sought after. At a time
when their jobs were in jeopardy, it offered one of them a potential career lifeline.
The green display above the door flashed the number 67. They had three more floors to go until
the elevator finished the express part of the ride. The elevator slowed down and came to a stop
on the seventieth floor. Jules exhaled in relief. He stepped forward in anticipation of the doors
opening. They remained shut.
He pressed the open button on the control panel. Nothing happened. He pressed it again, holding
it down for several seconds. The doors still didn’t budge. He pressed the button three times in
quick succession. Nothing. Finally, in desperation, he pressed the red emergency button. There
was no response.
“It’s not working,” he said.
They looked up at the panel above the door that displayed the floor numbers. It had an E on its
A small television monitor above the control panel turned on. At first, they didn’t think much of
it. They expected to see cable news or a stock market update, the type of thing usually broadcast
on elevator monitors.
It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the brightness of the white television screen. After
another moment, a message appeared in large black letters.
WELCOME TO THE ESCAPE
ROOM. YOUR GOAL IS SIMPLE.
GET OUT ALIVE.