The Game by Luca Veste

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Game, the brand new police thriller from Luca Veste. This is only the second of the author’s titles I’ve read but I was completely drawn into the story and loved every minute of it. My thanks to publisher Simon & Schuster UK for providing an advance copy of the book for review. Here is what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley

About the Book

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that merges the twists of a psychological-mystery with the investigative layers of a procedural . . .

THEY KNOW WHAT YOU DID
You receive a call, an email, a text – someone knows your secret and they want to ruin you.

AND THEY’RE OUT FOR BLOOD
If you don’t do what they say, they’ll tell everyone what you’ve been hiding.
They will come after you, destroy you, and they aren’t afraid to kill.

IT’S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME

My Thoughts

From the very start of this book I was left completely intrigued, knowing straight away that this was not going to be your run of the mill Police procedural. Luca Vest really draws you in, leaving you, and seemingly the Police, with so many questions that I knew this was not going to be a book I wanted to walk away from. Who is the mystery man we first meet? Why does he wish his identity to remain a secret given that he is so ready to open up to the officers about what he has done? What exactly is it that he is hiding, because I was absolutely certain that nothing was quite as it appeared … Well. To find out the answers to all of those questions I had to wait quite some time, but that was okay because when I settled into the heart of the story, I was more than happy to go along for the turbulent, thrilling ,and sometimes chilling, ride.

It’s really hard to go too far into what this book is about without giving away spoilers, but the basic premise surrounds the eponymous ‘game’, a series of challenges set by an online forum, deep in the dark web, which seem increasingly bizarre in nature but, for some reason, people seem to undertake. Some of the game is outline throughout the book as a series of chapters that follow the players – two at a time – and outline their actions and the leves of game they have to undertake. There is something off about the game, something that made me feel uneasy, even though it as impossible to put my finger on it at first. Luca Veste has built that tension up beautifully, expanding upon the nature of the challenges as the novel progresses, allowing readers to learn more about the players. Although it pulls you away from the main investigation thread of the story, it really does build the suspense and the tension and just made me want to keep on reading that ‘one more chapter’. The true nature of the game remains hidden to the last, but it is quite shocking and yet scarily believable. I can’t tell you why, but the reasons behind the game, the justifications if they can be called that, certainly created a sense of anger in me as a reader and yet a kind of resigned acceptance that it could possibly happen. Perhaps not in the same dramatic fashion that the author has created, but certainly that arrogance and that anger – it’s rife across the globe right now.

Alongside the game is a missing persons investigation, headed by the books protagonist, Detective Constable Mark Flynn. The circumstances of the disappearance are suspicious, and the family of the missing girl are a troubled bunch, from the distraught mother, the almost indifferent siblings to the angry and scary looking Uncle. To us, the readers, it is clear that the girl is likely to be linked to the ‘game’ but not clear quite how. But the family and the police know nothing of its existence, and the author has again created a very believable look into the lives of the people who are suffering a rollercoaster of emotions and the slow and painful investigation that may or may not bring the girl back home. I liked Flynn as a character. It is clear he is a little like a fish out of water, a misfit in the major investigation team he has only recently joined, and that sense of isolation plays alongside the story brilliantly. He’s a troubled soul, full of self doubt and nowhere near as confident as he perhaps should be, and yet his determination made me want to see him succeed, and his quiet approach, where we only occasionally see him vent his frustrations, makes him a character I would happily read more about.

There is a good amount of emotion tied up in this book that ebbs from the page, be it grief, fear or just plain old fashioned anger. The pacing in the story is spot on, the tension building to a very dramatic and pulse pounding showdown where the mysterious opening chapter is finally explained in full. In fact it is not just the opening chapter, the interviews between Police and suspect interspersed amongst the main narrative and making me even more desperate to find out what was going on. I was left satisfied by the conclusion but perhaps also a little hopeful. It wasn’t exactly a definite full stop – perhaps there is a chance we can hear more from Mark Flynn. I’d certainly sign up to read it.

Tapping into the ongoing obsession with online forums, chat rooms and anonymous figures inciting others, people that they have never met, to do things that may seem untenable, it is scarily believable too. Full of intrigue, tension, action and a big dose of emotion this is a book I’d definitely recommend.

About the Author

Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, married with two young daughters. He studied psychology and criminology at University in Liverpool.

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