In Metropolis we encounter six unforgettable characters who never would have met if not for their connection to the Metropolis Storage Warehouse. When a harrowing accident—or is it an accident?—occurs in the building, each person is forced to reconsider their life circumstances: Serge, a mentally unstable but brilliant street photographer who lives in his unit; Zach, the storage facility owner and an ex-drug dealer who inherits Serge’s undeveloped photographs that contain clues to the mysterious incident; Marta, an undocumented immigrant hiding from ICE and writing her doctoral dissertation; Liddy, an abused wife and mother who lives at Metropolis to escape her husband’s rage; Jason, a lawyer who has left his big firm and now practices out of his unit; and Rose, the office manager who takes kickbacks to let people live illegally in the facility and has her own disintegrating family to deal with.
The characters have different backgrounds: they’re white, brown and Black; they’re Christian, Jewish and atheist; they’re gay and straight; they’re young, and they’re not so young; they’re rich, poor, and somewhere in the middle. As they dip in and out of each other’s stories and struggle to salvage their own lives—as well as discover the truth behind the incident—Metropolis traces how their interlocking narratives connect them and tear them apart. B.A. Shapiro has wrapped an ensemble cast around a mystery that thematically explores the myth of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” in current day America.
“Metropolis is an ingeniously plotted hybrid social/suspense novel. Shapiro takes her time loading the bases, and in the last inning, she hits it out of the park.”
“In Metropolis Barbara Shapiro is the literary equivalent of a master juggler. Written with tremendous compassion and a wonderful knack for storytelling, her characters whirl together within the confines of a self-storage unit. Though at its core it’s a mystery, its beating heart is their stories. It is a dazzling performance and a novel that will stay with me for a long time to come.”
“B.A. Shapiro’s Metropolis is a rich and gripping journey through intersecting lives, a nuanced exploration of characters who share nothing in common—but almost everything too. Inventive and immersive, it’s a page-turner of novel that will also make you want to slow down and soak it all in.”
—Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of November Road
“Riveting, with fascinating characters, a pace that crackles with tension, and a deeper message that will resonate with everyone.”
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of I KNOW A SECRET
“I LOVED this book!!! Once I started I could not stop and read it in one day. Setting is genius, characters are interesting and likable and the interconnections are seamless.”
—Irene Kudarauskas, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
“Metropolis is a riveting read by a remarkable storyteller. The cast of characters Shapiro creates in her thriller will keep you guessing and make you fall in and out of love with each one. Set in an old storage warehouse in Boston, the story is a tribute to old Boston as well as a depiction of how people live, whether in wealth or poverty, we all do our best to remain human and connected to one another. Well done!”
—Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
“Metropolis… a fancy hotel or big city? Neither. It’s a very old, multi story self-storage building; each unit holding memories, secrets and treasures from another time and place. A clever story with an outstanding set of main characters. Another really good Shapiro book!”
—Karen Solar, Cooperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL
“I loved the menagerie of characters and the storage-unit setting! Creative, propelling—a pleasure to read.”
—Cathy Graham, Cooperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL
—Connie Eaton, Three Sisters Books, Shelbyville, IN
—Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS
“Brava! B. A. Shapiro has done it again with a contemporary mystery set in the Boston area. Interesting characters (yes, the building itself is one) walk a complex tightrope of a plot. This is a fascinating look at human nature, the consequences of one seemingly small decision, and a mirror to our inner selves. You’ll never again drive past a self-storage facility without wondering ‘if those walls could talk…’”
—Dawn Kennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA
—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN
“I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a cast of characters more than those whose lives are connected within the walls of the quirky Metropolis. A terrible accident in its elevator shaft brings all the stories to light, along with the threads pulling them together across societal and cultural levels. Brilliant, tense, and perfectly paced!
—Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
—Mindy Ostrow, The River’s End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
“I loved the intertwined stories and the satisfying conclusion. Great summer read!”
—Susan Tayler, Book House, Albany, NY
—Anne Holman, The King’s England Bookstore, Salt Lake City, UT
—Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
Inspired by a Documentary, a Novel, a Video and a Newspaper Article:
“Where do you get your ideas?” is probably the most frequent question novelists are asked. The answer is never easy as a story rarely pops up full force—at least for me. The idea for Metropolis germinated for over thirty years and finally came together through the convergence of a novel, a documentary, a video and a newspaper article. Who knew?
My previous three novels were historical art-themed stories told in multiple voices across multiple times, and I wanted to switch it up a bit. My plan was that my next would be a present-day story that takes place in Boston—where I live—rather than Paris or Philadelphia or NYC, like the most recent ones. It wouldn’t be about art, and it would have a single storyline and a single protagonist. Things didn’t exactly work out that way.
1. The epigraph in Metropolis reads, “An imbalance between the rich and the poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Why do you suppose Shapiro chose this particular quote? Do you believe it’s true? How did she weave this concept throughout the story?
2. Shapiro has a PhD in sociology. How do you think this affected the course of the novel?
3. Metropolis has an ensemble cast of six. Do you think this was the best way to tell this story? What did you like about it? What didn’t you?
4. How much knowledge did you gain about Zach, Rose, Liddy, Marta, Serge and Jason through another’s viewpoint? Do you think this is an effective way of rounding out the characters?
“I found Metropolis to be compelling, moving, and exciting. I devoured it in a weekend; I ended up caring a lot for some of the characters; and for the most part, I’m deeply satisfied with how some characters’ stories turn out.”
—Always With A Book
“Who would have thought that a novel about a storage warehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, could be even readable, much less thoroughly engrossing? However, B.A. Shapiro’s latest novel is one of the most captivating stories I have read in a long time.”
—The Manhattan Mercury