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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.”
Shelf Awareness

“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.”
—Mary Morris

“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

“Having met B. A. Shapiro at a Community Reads event a few years ago, I was anxious to read her latest novel. She did not disappoint. The story lines and characters were interwoven flawlessly. Her storage unit main setting of the novel is unusual but essential to the lives of the six main characters of the story. A page turner of a well told tale.”
—Connie Eaton, Three Sisters Books, Shelbyville, IN
“B. A. Shapiro’s Metropolis is a departure to her historic novels. Set in the present, this thriller is thoroughly entertaining. It’s a good day when a beloved author surprises readers with something completely new!”
—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

“The cast of Metropolis is storing a lot more than excess boxes at this self storage unit. B.A. Shapiro has a keen eye for detail, character development, and pacing and she puts them together to craft a work of unique eloquence. Readers will be racing to find out how these six disparate people connect in a warehouse and find their futures. Riveting!”
—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

“In Metropolis, B. A. Shapiro leaves the realm of the arts paired with historical fiction and heads right back to contemporary psychological suspense.”
—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

“Not just a love story to Boston but a twisty turny mystery sort of in the locked room genre but with storage!”
—Anne Holman, The King’s England Bookstore, Salt Lake City, UT
“This clever, engaging, and twisty story is set in a gothic storage warehouse in Cambridge, MA. As with Shapiro’s other books, there is a strong art/artist thread. The setting is picture-perfect for a thrilling story.”
—Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI


Inspired by a Documentary, a Novel, a Video and a Newspaper Article:
Writing Metropolis

“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.

Reader’s Guide

Discussion Questions

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?

More Praise

“I loved these characters and found the story so engaging, heartwarming and entertaining.”
“One of my favorites of the year.”
“A truly unique and original story.”
“Shapiro is known for her spellbinding plots, and in Metropolis, she applies her addictive storytelling to a cataclysmic event that occur at a castle-like storage facility housing a colorful cat of social pariahs.”

“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.”
—Literary Reads

“Truly spectacular… B.A. Shapiro’s Metropolis as close to perfect as it gets…. Metropolis is in a class of its own, and stunning.  Metropolis—and this is a long throw for me—may just be the most captivating book I’ve read in years.”
Durango Telegraph
“This book really ended up being so much more than I thought it would be and as I mentioned it does tackles some pretty big issues—immigration, domestic violence, poverty, inequality, politics and mental illness—and it does so in such a brilliant and imaginative way. I definitely recommend picking this one up… it really is quite an original story and I even think it would make a great book club pick.”
—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