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Robert Goddard: step inside the panic room

There’s a long tradition of locked room murder mysteries in crime fiction. The plot of my new novel, Panic Room, is a contemporary twist on that. It hinges, at least apparently, on an extrapolation of the tradition into our present day era of high tech security in the home.

Panic rooms have become must-­have accessories for those with enough wealth both to acquire large and often remote properties and to attract the wrong kind of attention to themselves. The criminal kind of attention, that is.

In the event of a break‐in, the owner can retreat to their panic room, which can only be locked from inside and can’t be opened from outside once it is secured. Steel­‐reinforced doors and walls, video cameras feeding images from all other rooms in the house, dedicated power and telephone lines and a store of food and water make it seemingly impregnable.

But a hiding-­place can become, under certain circumstances, a prison, or worse. A famous example is the death of the Lebanese banker Edmond Safra at his apartment in Monte Carlo in December 1999, killed by smoke inhalation while sheltering from a fire and supposed intruders. The case has become a magnet for conspiracy theories because of various bizarre circumstances, but what’s not in doubt is that the secure room to which Safra retreated from a perceived threat became his tomb.

The panic room as a danger in its own right is the essence of the idea I had for this story. What is a householder to think if, one day, they find their panic room locked? This can surely only mean someone is inside. But who? And why? And what do they intend to do? They can see you, but you can’t see them. They can emerge at a time of their choosing, but you can’t enter. Where did they come from? When did they arrive? Are they dead or alive? And what will happen next?

There are no easy or obvious answers. And you can’t force your way in to learn the truth. So, what are your options? Optimistically write the whole thing off as a weird technical fault? Or… get out of the house and stay out?

For the character in my book who confronts this dilemma, the situation is even more complicated. Flight isn’t much of an option when you have nowhere to flee to. It’s not actually your house. But the owner has allowed you to take refuge there from problems of your own. You didn’t even know there was a panic room. Until you found it locked.

If it really is a panic room, of course. But, then, what else could it be? A panic room is designed to be a hiding‐place. But that means it could be hiding more than just its occupants. What exactly is the secret that lies within its impenetrably thick steel walls?

All will be revealed in the pages of Panic Room. Just step inside.

Can’t wait for Robert Goddard’s new book, Panic Room? Let us know in the comments below!

Robert Goddard, author of This is the Night They Come For You
Robert Goddard, author of This is the Night They Come For You
Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard was born in Hampshire and read History at Cambridge. His first novel, Past Caring, was an instant bestseller. Since then his books have captivated readers worldwide with their edge-of-the-seat pace and their labyrinthine plotting. The first Harry Barnett novel, Into the Blue, was winner of the first WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award and was dramatized for TV, starring John Thaw. His thriller, Long Time Coming won an Edgar in the Mystery Writers of America awards. Robert’s most recent books feature hero James ‘Max’ Maxted.


    Bit late to this thread but….love Robert Goddard’s books, have devoured all of them but, up to last year (2020), have had quite a gap. Browsing in the local library when it re-opened for escapist (from YouKnowWhat) fiction & delighted to find this. A great read with the usual mega twist in the tail at the finale – how prescient this one is. I had to check the date of publication. As well as his other skills as a novelist, Goddard’s crystal ball’s obvs in full working order…..

    I would love to read this as it sounds like something a bit different

    Great giveaway, would love to receive a copy, always love finding new authors to me ???

    Can’t say I’ve read any of Robert’s books as yet, but am looking forward to reading some.

    This book sounds great and I can’t wait to read it

    Looks very intriguing and thought provoking xx

    Looking for a new aurthor to read. Sounds like I’ve found them.

    I’ve been waiting for another Robert Goddard book for Days Without Number and it’s been A Long Time Coming but he’s never Found Wanting… the plots are not Set in Stone but you need to Play to the End to make sense of everything…I’m often Dying to Tell one of my Closed Circle what the ending is and it’s the Ways of the World that one day I’ll be Past Caring and will reveal all, as long as the final page is not Beyond Recall…be warned, you’re on Borrowed Time…

    I’ve never read any of his work. This book sounds like an ideal starting point.

    Always enjoyed his books but admit I haven’t read any lately so look forward to reading Panic Room

    Can’t wait to read it. Seems an age since I finished the last book in the Trilogy

    I can’t wait to read this book and a signed copy would be great than you

    Yes please would love to read Panic Room, sounds brilliant

    My very favourite author, have read every book he has written. I would love this book as I know it will be just as brilliant as his others.

    Sounds like a brilliant book. Can’t wait to read it.

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