Exit, by Julian Boote, is a terrifying read that will keep you up well after your bedtime. And you might want to leave the lights on.
A group of thieves receive a frightening message during a midnight heist: The wage of sin is death. During the robbery, a swarm of hooded individuals trap them inside an abandoned Cold War nuclear bunker. The compound is vast and cutoff from the outside world. As the thieves begin to realize they are trapped they learn another scary fact. The people in hoods are vigilantes that will stop at nothing to get their type of justice, including torture and murder.
All of the thieves are guilty of crimes. Instead of having their day in court, the vigilantes will be judge, jury, and executioners. One by one, they fall. Can any of them escape?
This book is Ocean’s Eleven meets Saw. All the team members are excellent at what they do, whether it be hacking into computer systems or cracking safes. Each has their role, but when they are attacked, they need to band together to fight off the ruthless vigilantes. However, not all of them get along, and when the stakes are raised, the tension in the group pushes some members to the limit.
Not all of the thieves are likable, making this story more believable. The reader is torn at times when deciding who to cheer for. One of the thieves in particular is easy to hate, and reading about him can make for some tough moments. However, most of the time, the reader wants the criminals to find safety. The vigilantes aren’t simply out for justice or revenge for that matter. They want to make each individual suffer as much as possible before they die. The rooms, hallways, and doors in the bunker have been rigged, creating a sadistic game of life or death.
Besides the leader of the vigilantes it’s never quite clear who the other hooded hunters are. It may have strengthened the story to share a bit more of their back story, not just the thieves. However, this book is already over 500 pages, which may be one of the reasons the author kept them hidden. Only so much can be told in one story.
Given the length of the novel and the fact that most of the action takes place during one night, it’s surprising at first glance the number of pages. Boote does an excellent job of ramping up the action, creating such a frenzied pace of sheer terror and then he puts the brakes on and gets inside of each character’s head. This isn’t just a horror and action novel. It’s a topnotch psychological thriller. His ability of making the reader feel the fears, desires and thoughts for each of the thieves makes this a difficult book to put down. The pages fly by and the number no longer matters. All that does matter is finding out what happens next.
Aside from a few editing issues, this is a well-written, fast-paced thriller that will haunt you after you finish.