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The Game by Luca Veste

It starts with some form of communication you can’t ignore: a phone call, a text, an email… The person you’re communicating with knows your secret and if you don’t play The Game, it will be revealed. Complete each level and you may be able to leave; fail and your fate is in the hands of some unknown puppet master.

After enjoying Luca Veste’s previous standalone books, The Bone Keeper and The Six, I couldn’t wait to read The Game – even if I do still live in hope for another in the Murphy & Rossi series! In The Game, we have probably one of the most twisted killers the author has written about and yet, for me, the scary part was that I could actually imagine something like this happening in real life!

When a young woman goes missing, DC Mark Flynn feels that there is more to this case than meets the eye. Going against what his colleagues believe has happened, he begins to investigate an online challenge known as ‘The Game’, linking the disappearance to the death of another young woman nearby. Although Mark found himself flying solo for the majority of the time, he is not the typical maverick detective you find in police procedurals, finding himself an outsider through circumstance not choice. I liked Mark, admiring his perseverance even though his beliefs pushed him further away from the rest of the squad.

The internet has become a feature of many crime books in recent years and here, Luca Veste has definitely demonstrated the negative side. As I said earlier, as the plot develops and we discover how people are ‘recruited’ to play The Game, you begin to realise how this could actually happen in the real world and how important it is to remember the consequences that online comments can have.

I really enjoyed The Game and hope that this isn’t the last we hear of Mark Flynn.

With thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster UK for my copy.

Troll by D. B. Thorne

Sophie has disappeared, the police coming to the conclusion that she has taken her own life after losing her home and job. Her father, Fortune, is not convinced, though, and after flying in from Dubai, his own investigations lead him to an online troll that was sending his daughter vile messages on her blog. Is her disappearance as a result of a recent sting she was part of or is there something even more sick and twisted at the root?

Recently, I have read several books where the internet has played a vital role in the plot – Trust Me and Last Breath to name two. What I particularly liked about Troll was that, initially, we were kept in the dark as to what had happened to Sophie, our only information coming from flashbacks telling us about the events leading up to her disappearance. The rest of the information we discover in ‘real time’ as Fortune follows the clues to discover her whereabouts. I felt a lot of sympathy for Fortune who was, to all intents and purposes, an absent father as Sophie was growing up and is now trying to make up for lost time by helping her in her hour of need. This was made even more poignant as we discover that Fortune is ill and time is running out.

I also liked Sophie who, through her flashbacks and blog, we find was a determined young woman who had been driven to intense paranoia due to events totally out of her control. Looking from the outside in, it is easy to see the mistakes she made when deciding who to trust, but as, by this point, she was being pushed to the brink of insanity, Sophie was in desperate need of a friendly face.

Troll is a twisted tale of ‘cat and mouse’ where there can only be one victor, and I found the ending satisfying if sad. A great read!

With thanks to Corvus and Readers First for the ARC.

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