Neil Double is a 'conference surrogate', hired by his clients to attend industry conferences so that they don't have to. It's a life of budget travel, cheap suits, and out-of-town exhibition centers. But his latest job, at a conference of conference organizers, will radically transform him and everything he believes as it unexpectedly draws him into a bizarre and speculative mystery.
In a brand-new Way Inn - a global chain of identikit mid-budget motels - he meets a woman he has seen before in strange and unsettling circumstances. But before Neil can learn more, she vanishes. Intrigued, he tries to find her - a search that will lead him down the rabbit hole, into an eerily familiar place where he will discover a disturbing secret about the Way Inn.
I had quite high hopes with this book, having once being a weekly airline traveler for my job. Although I did not go to many trade fairs, I could definitely relate to many aspects described in this book, particularly the sometimes comforting, sometimes strangely creepy "sameness" of various hotel chains. More than once in my travels I went to the room number I was in the evening before, since the new hotel had the same plants, wallpaper, carpet and even empty chair by the elevator, which can lull the tired, distracted traveler to following an unthinking route to same number he/she had been in the previous 3 nights. I derived some amusement to the observations noted by the protagonist, and chuckled at the an occasion description (one character is said to have a "vestigial crease" in his trousers.) But, what is amusing for a few paragraphs or chapters can quickly become tedious. I found myself frequently stopping the book to read something else in my library and coming back to "The Way Inn", hoping for the "scary bits" to finally appear. Unfortunately, for me, there were no scary or thrilling parts. Still, this book had some clever writing. I might recommend this to frequent travelers who can think "yes, I have noticed that." But for anyone searching for a suspenseful book, I would advise a pass on this work.
The narrator was a perfect fit for the characters, especially the protagonist.
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