Source: Review copy
Publication: 12 November 2020 from Simon & Schuster
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
This book is shocking. Not because it has terrible murders, though it does indeed. Not because of the violence or the surprising reveals, though it has these, too, but because this is a book about the perfidious nature of online activity and the extent to which it can destroy lives. We hear a lot about the cruelty of live interaction these days and indeed, there’s a man right now showing us just how perceptions can be skewed if you perpetuate lies with enough authority.
As we begin The Game, a man is in police custody admitting to a series of 8 murders. He hasn’t asked for a lawyer, he won’t tell the police who he is; he’s just spilling out the names of his victims and how he killed them, waiting for the police to write it all down. The fact that he was found next to the dead body of a girl should surely be enough to convince them that he is serious.
DC Mark Flynn is a bit of a loner. He works in the Liverpool Major Crimes Unit but hasn’t really jelled with his colleagues and so, more often than not, he pursues a solitary path.
He is trying to work out what has happened to Emily Burns, a missing young woman. At the place where she was last seen, is a blood trail, but that hasn’t led him anywhere. Now the body of a young woman has been found murdered. While his colleagues try to find her killer, Mark is convinced that Emily’s disappearance and this murdered young woman are connected. But how and why?
As Mark investigates, it becomes clear that he is a pawn in someone else’s deadly game.
Luca Veste’s novel is a clever and deeply chilling examination of how social isolation and peer pressure can separate people from their sense of self-worth. Building on urban myths and the susceptibility of the lonely and socially isolated, The Game takes hold of people through their darkest secrets and manipulates them into committing desperate acts.
The reader learns most of what is going on through DC Flynn, but Veste cleverly draws us into The Game, too, as we learn things that Mark Flynn does not know. His propensity for self-doubt; his distrust of authority and his tendency to work alone are leading him deep into a mystery that could have deadly consequences.
Veste builds a compelling, creepy tale that has a solid core of truth and it doesn’t take too much of a leap to see how things can escalate into the scenes of murder and manipulation that the books portrays.
Verdict: Clever, creepy, compelling.
Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Liverpudlian heritage, married with two young daughters, and is one of nine children. He studied psychology and criminology at university in Liverpool. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi series. He also wrote the stand-alone novels, The Bone Keeper and The Six.
His books have been translated and published in the USA, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland. As well as writing, Luca is also a guitarist and regularly performs with the group The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Luca is also one half of the very funny podcast duo, Two Crime Writers and a Microphone. If you haven’t heard Luca and his partner in crime, Steve Cavanagh, then you really should subscribe!