The Eleventh Floor

Kylie Orr

HQ Fiction: February 2024 

Publisher’s blurb

Will one mother’s lie cost another woman her life?

Sleep deprived, struggling and at breaking point, first-time mum Gracie Michaels books one night – alone – at The Maxwell Hotel. A king-size bed all to herself. No demands. With time to recharge she’ll be able to return to her family more like the unflappable mother she pretends to be.

Instead, she wakes in a room she doesn’t recognise after an encounter with a man who is not her husband. Then she sees something she wishes she hadn’t.

Being drawn into a crime was not something Gracie had planned for her hotel stay but when a distraught family appeals for information and a police investigation heats up she is trapped in a maze of lies.

To speak out jeopardises her marriage, but her silence threatens her son, her sanity and her safety. Will Gracie destroy her own family by telling the truth or devastate someone else’s by keeping her secrets?


By Ashleigh Miekle

When Gracie Michaels gets a night off from being a mother to recharge, she doesn’t expect it to end the way it does. One minute, she’s having a drink at the bar of the hotel, and the next minute, she’s waking up in a strange room with a man she doesn’t know and has witnessed something she never thought she would. Gracie is pulled into a crime investigation following the pleas of a distraught family – and suddenly, she is facing legal and personal ramifications. Every option will jeopardise something she holds dear in her world, and she is determined to hold it together.

Kylie Orr’s new book is filled with twists and turns as the crime and lies become intertwined with another crime and secrets. A crime that is hinted at for quite a while, that bubbles along as Gracie grapples with what she witnessed, and Phoebe Maidstone’s disappearance, juggling her role as a mother, wife, friend – and a witness. Throughout the novel, Gracie feels conflicted and unsure, unsteady and uneasy about many things, including her memory. I could see that this affected how she reacted to what she saw that night, and how and what she told people – namely, the police and her husband. In her words, she didn’t want to hurt anyone or give the police a false statement. 

Morals are questioned in many ways, and this novel shows the grim reality of unreliable narrators and witnesses. What if we see something but can’t be sure about it, or what if we don’t fully comprehend what we saw? How do we react to this and what do we tell people? Throughout the novel, which is in Gracie’s perspective, we’re presented with an array of reactions to the fateful events in the hotel room, and everything that happened during the case. And the consequences of that night for Gracie, Phoebe, and those around them. 

I found this novel compelling, and difficult to put down, as it is complex and indicative of how the justice and legal system works. How deals are made, the way different people can face justice based on preconceived ideas and notions of their standing in society, and the lengths people will go to get justice for rape and murder and other assaults against women. It reveals what the line is and how people cross the line. 

I could see Gracie was overstepping at times, yet her very visceral reactions made sense – her desire to make sure perpetrators didn’t get away with what they did was powerful. And it shows the reality of the #MeToo movement – the way women come together to speak out against the threats they face. It highlights the patriarchy; the reality of the men who perpetrate these acts and get away with it or receive lighter prison sentences. This reality highlights that Gracie’s story is not uncommon. In fact, it examines the way women who are assaulted must prove what was done to them more than the assaulter has to prove their “innocence”. And most importantly, I liked the way it examined how communities come together to promote a cause, whilst also interrogating the lengths some people will go to for justice. The question is asked throughout this book: legally and personally, what is justice?

Novels like The Eleventh Floor are provocative, yanking back the curtain on a dark side of society, whilst contrasting it with the supportive men like Joe and those who find what they are hearing to be abhorrent. In questioning powerplays between the genders, I found this novel to be intriguing and insightful, illustrating the different ways people react to crime and being a witness or victim – and maybe both. Kylie Orr created a balanced view of navigating the justice system from the perspectives of the victim, witness, lawyer, police and family and friends exceptionally well. Despite this being fiction, the themes raised are contemporary and highlight the issue that is pressing: we may have made great inroads in the last thirty years but we still have a long way to go for women to achieve justice.