The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver #BookReview #BlogTour

A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.

An investigator running out of time.
Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.

A killer playing a dangerous game.
Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver today. Many thanks to the author and to Becca Bryant from Harper Collins for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Within the first few pages of The Never Game, I knew that Colter Shaw was a protagonist I was intrigued by. He is able to coolly assess the perilous situation he is in - whether there is a woman on board a rapidly sinking boat and how likely it is that she is still alive. He works out how long he has before hypothermia sets in and it soon becomes apparent that he has impressive survival skills but nevertheless, it would seem as though this rescue mission is unlikely to succeed.
The story then skips back two days earlier and the events that led Shaw to that boat are gradually revealed. It turns out that he is a reward-seeker; when people go missing - children, runaways, felons, parents with Alzheimer's  - and a reward is posted, Shaw will attempt to find out what happened to them. His latest case takes him to Silicon Valley and the disappearance of a young woman, Sophie. When a picture bearing the disturbing image of a stencilled face is posted in place of Sophie's missing poster in a cafĂ©, it leads him to a complicated investigation involving the video gaming industry. A second kidnapping seems to confirm that somebody is obsessed by a game called The Whispering Man and is intent on acting out a chilling real-life version of it. As any gamer knows, each level in video game becomes progressively more difficult and this time the stakes are only too real. It is soon only too evident that the perpetrator is ruthless and like the Whispering Man of the game leaves his victims with five objects which, if they choose wisely may offer them a very limited chance of escape.
Although most of the book is told in a linear fashion, following Colter's increasingly urgent investigation, some scenes are set during his teenage years and this insight into his past allows readers to  learn more about his unconventional upbringing - he and his siblings were homeschooled off-grid and he owes his impressive survivalist skills to his father. However,  there is clearly some unfinished business surrounding his father's death which perhaps explains why he has become the driven loner, prepared to travel from state to state rather than stop in one place and put down roots. There are also mentions of a woman, Margot but little further explanation of exactly what she meant to him, other than she was obviously an important part of his life at some point.
Despite his enigmatic nature - his reluctance to smile becomes an ongoing joke - he does form very different relationships with two women over the course of the novel; a gamer called Maddie and a police officer, LaDonna Standish from the local Joint Major Crime Task Force. His interactions with both woman provide further glimpses into his character and the mention of his young nieces also reveals a softer side to the man. As the first book in a new series, I felt the development of Shaw's character was handled well, there was enough to make him a fascinating protagonist but enough held back to entice me to want to know more.
The Never Game is an exciting thriller in which the complex politics of the billion-dollar gaming industry provide a fresh and gripping backdrop to an excellent introduction to a new series. With plenty of red herrings and a tense race against time, I tore through the pages of this fast-paced novel. The book concludes with a tantalising suggestion of further investigations to come, including a mysterious and dangerous link to his father. I'm very much looking forward to reading more and recommend The Never Game to anybody who enjoys intelligent action thrillers.

The Never Game is published by Harper Collins and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the No.1 international bestselling author of more than thirty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He's received or been
shortlisted for a number of awards around the world. A former journalist, folksinger, and attorney, he was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University.
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