Well you can imagine my excitement when the invite to be part of a blog tour for Jeffery Deaver’s latest book dropped into my inbox. Not only is he a great author, he’s going to be attending the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, so double bonus!
The Never Game introduces us to Colter Shaw. He is a reward hunter who makes his living from chasing down rewards being offered by families of missing people. When a young girl goes missing Colter Shaw heads to Silicon Valley to see if he can find out what has happened. When another victim is kidnapped Colter starts to think that actually it could all be linked to a video game – The Whispering Man. In the game the player has to survive after being trapped somewhere with only five random objects. It seems that someone is bringing the game to life and whoever it is will stop at nothing to carry out their work.
I am a big fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series so it’s always a gamble when a new series by an author you love comes along. However this didn’t disappoint. The Never Game was a fast paced story that had all of the twists and turns you expect from Jeffery Deaver. I think ‘a rollercoaster read’ would be a good description, it starts of with a bang and then slows but just as you get comfortable it shoots off again.
I have to say that I am not really a fan of the indestructible protagonist. The type who get run over, loses a leg, has a knife in their eye but can still jump out of a helicopter Annika Rice style, stop the criminal and be in bed with the lead detective smoking a cigarette before daylight. On the surface of it Colter Shaw does seem to be a bit like that. He is a survivalist having been brought up by a father who dropped out of civilization and roams the country rescuing people . Yet Colter is a more complex intellectual character who has a quiet strength about him that is evident in the way he conducts himself. His way of solving crimes is to assess the percentages and work out the most likely options rather than just go in gung ho which gives a different perspective to the story. There are insights into his childhood and family life throughout which help get to know the character whilst not distracting from the mystery.
The Never Game is a great read, and despite not being a ‘gamer’ myself I found the computer game element interesting. The idea of the games being brought to life is quite terrifiying. This was a great start to what is obviously going to be a new series and I can’t wait to see Jeffery Deaver talking about this at the festival.
Thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of the novel. You can buy your own here.
To find out what others thought make sure you visit the other stops on the tour:
Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.
Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.
I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.
Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.
As a young girl (obviously only a few years ago) one of the first mystery writers I ever picked up was Mary Higgins Clark. Therefore I was very excited to be offered the chance to read a copy of her latest novel I’ve Got My Eyes On You’
The story starts with the body of Kerry being found in her parent’s swimming pool. Her parent’s had been away and she had thrown a party but despite the house being packed with people no one saw anything. Her boyfriend is the main suspect to start with, as they were known to have a pretty argumentative relationship. However there are other suspects including the boy next door who was upset that he didn’t get invited to the party and the mysterious big guy that was spotted by the neighbour. Kerry’s sister has just returned after travelling to work as a guidance counsellor at her sister’s old school and as well as dealing with her own grief she has to help her sister’s friends deal with theirs.
This was a great quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I must confess it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve, it was pretty obvious early on what the outcome might be. However that at no point spoils the story. The key to Mary Higgins Clark longevity is her characterisation and writing style. Short chapters make it an easy read that keeps you doing the classic just one more chapter then I’ll put the book down until early morning. The characters are all well rounded and there is a good mix of likeable and annoying ones. Of course as well as the mystery there is also a romance, and that just adds to the intrigue in the book.
As with all her novels this isn’t gruesome graphic novel, it is a story of a murder and of why it happened. I would recommend this if you want an easy fast yet satisfying read.
I am lucky enough to read many debut novelists which means I often get hooked on a series from the beginning. However the downside of having so many debut authors to read of course, is that it sometimes means that an authors later novels get pushed down the ever increasing ‘want to read’ pile in favour of debuts. This is what happened with Luca Veste. I read both the first two in the excellent Murphy and Rossi series and I have book three ‘Bloodstream’ and four ‘Then She Was Gone’ on the pile. Therefore when I realised that the new one by Luca Veste was available on netgalley and was a standalone story I jumped at the chance to read it.
The Bone Keeper starts with 4 children playing in the woods talking about the local mythical killer – ‘The Bone Keeper’ . The Bone Keeper steals children, slices them up and as you can probably guess, hangs onto the bones. The 4 children dare each other to walk through the tunnel where the Bone Keeper lives but only three of them come out the other side. Forward twenty years and a woman is found wandering round the streets covered in slash marks and saying that the bone keeper did it. DC Louise Henderson starts to investigate whilst dealing with her own issues and trying not to let herself believe that the Bone Keeper might actually be real.
This was a superb book that kept me absolutely engrossed on a recent trip up to Edinburgh. Everyone can recall stories from when they were young of the bogeyman in the woods, with every different place having a slight twist in the tale meaning they all have some personal connection. Therefore a tale about one of these stories coming to life is always going to be a page turner.
The Bone Keeper is set in Liverpool and this is a place that is as much a part of the book as the story itself. I can’t say I was particularly fond of the central character Louise, in fact I found her rather insipid, with very little that actually made me care about her at all. I did however like her partner Shipley, and the way the characters interacted. However the story is the element that really makes this novel stand out. In parts this crossed to being more of a horror story rather than a simple crime story which I really enjoyed. It takes real skill to write a novel that can scare whilst being realistic.
Whilst for fans of the Murphy and Rossi series this is a bit of a departure I would definitely recommend it if you like fiction that scares.
The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste is available on amazon
I have always been a bit wary of fitbit’s, so many people seem to wear them and in my head I’ve always imagined that somewhere there are aliens getting ready to take over the planet. They’ll just flick a switch and everyone with a fitbit will be turned into a killing robot. Therefore when I was invited onto the promotional blog tour for Black Matter I was happy to help!
Black matter is the debut novel by author GD Parker. It is book one of a three-part series that explores the depths of the unfolding high-tech world we now live in, making it a dangerous place.
Black Matter – the blurb
The future is now… it’s terrifying!!! Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place. Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing. He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask. The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here. A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.
Gareth was born in the UK in 1981. A family man he has spent much of his working life in South Wales working in a professional capacity. One day he made the decision write about an idea he dreamt about. Still working full time for a large organisation, he enjoys reading all manner of books, and spending time with his family.
If you would like to read this novel, set not too far in the future then it is out now. I bet it makes you think twice about keeping hold of your activity tracker though!
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P
US – https://www.amazon.com/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P
As you know I usually only feature fiction books on acrimereadersblog. I don’t read an awful lot of non-fiction. However there are some exceptions to this, and The Butchering Art was one. Author Lindsey Fitzharris was talking at the York Literature Festival but unfortunately I was unable to attend. So when I was invited to take part in the Blog Tour for the Wellcome Book Prize I jumped at the chance to read a copy of her book.
The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that illuminate our encounters with health and medicine. The Butchering Art tells the story of Joseph Lister. In the 19th Century operating theatres were known as ‘gateways to death’ over half the people who had surgery died on the table. Lister was one of the first to believe that germs caused death and that antiseptic could kill them. This was a shocking claim in an era where surgeons didn’t even bother washing their hands before cutting people open! With lots of graphich detail, The Butchering Art is a fascinating tale of Victorian hospitals, where the cleaners were paid more than the surgeons.
The following extract gives a flavour of the book which is available on amazon.
Lister escaped many of the dangerous medical treatments that some of his contemporaries experienced while growing up, because his father believed in vis medicatrix naturae, or “the healing power of nature.” Like many Quakers, Joseph Jackson was a therapeutic nihilist, adhering to the idea that Providence played the most important role in the healing process. He believed that administering foreign substances to the body was unnecessary and sometimes downright life-threatening. In an age when most medicinal concoctions contained highly toxic drugs like heroin, cocaine, and opium, Joseph Jackson’s ideas might not have been too wide of the mark. Because of the household’s dearly held principles, it came as a surprise to everyone in the family when young Lister announced that he wanted to be a surgeon— a job that involved physically intervening in God’s handiwork. None of his relations, except a distant cousin, were doctors. And surgery, in particular, carried with it a certain social stigma even for those outside the Quaker community. The surgeon was very much viewed as a manual laborer who used his hands to make his living, much like a key cutter or plumber today. Nothing better demonstrated the inferiority of surgeons than their relative poverty. Before 1848, no major hospital had a salaried surgeon on its staff, and most surgeons (with the exception of a notable few) made very little money from their private practices. But the impact a medical career might have on his social and financial standing later in life was far from Lister’s mind when he was a boy. During the summer of 1841, at the age of fourteen, he wrote to his father, who was away attending to the family’s wine business, “When Mamma was out I was by myself and had nothing to do but draw skeletons.” Lister requested a sable brush so that he could “shade another man to shew the rest of the muscles.” He drew and labelled all the bones in the cranium, as well as those of the hands, from both the front and the back. Like his father, young Lister was a proficient artist— a skill that would later help him to document in startling detail his observations made during his medical career.