Your Number’s Up – ‘Game’ by Anders De La Motte

gameYou can never tell with thrillers. The premise as written in the blurb always sounds mind blowing. If every book was as good as its tagline suggested we’d never have invented TV.

Game is no exception. A secret game, played over a mobile phone. Dares for points, but are these mindless acts of mischief and violence or is there method behind the mayhem? Who is playing the Game, and what are the stakes? An enticing prospect, but would the book live up to its billing?

Yes.

Game is a brilliantly exciting novel. Scandinavian crime is in a good place at the moment, but for some books (including the very popular ones) the delivery doesn’t quite match the hype. No such problems with Game. There are more twists and turns in this book than you’d find in a bendy straw factory.

I often have a problem with this type of book and their reliance on convenient coincidence. It always spoils things. There are no such problems here. Indeed De La Motte goes one step further by making you think there is one, before punching you hard in the solar plexus; punishment for lack of faith. This is a well constructed house of cards, that you can only gape at in admiration.

The novel is strong from the start, and it’s the illicit frisson generated by the game itself that gives the book it’s appeal. A sleek high-end mobile phone found on a train. A mysterious invite, a harmless prank and some money in the bank. Add into that a leaderboard and an anonymous fan base clamouring for more, what could possibly go wrong? It turns out it’s amazing what lengths fragile egos might go to in order to retain their fame. It’s easy to see how almost anybody could start their way down this slipperiest of paths.

De La Motte exploits the anonymity of social networking, combined with its flip side; how easy it is to gain notoriety. It’s an almost perfect marriage of technology and psychology. By continually throwing curve balls, the author keeps his reader off balance. It’s impossible to tell where the boundary between the game and real-life lies. Who is playing who? And do they even know? It’s an onion of duplicity.

I really enjoyed Game. It’s fast-flowing. Makes some important observations about society and keeps you guessing until the end. Despite the sleight of hand I think it remains plausible throughout. Christmas is on the way and this book is the perfect gift for the thriller lover in your life. The first in a trilogy, Game deserves to be huge.

Many Thanks to Jaime and the rest of the Harper/Blue Door Books team for sending me a copy of this book. It’s out in the UK on December 5th.

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