Sunday 2 April 2017

Deadly Game by Matt Johnson

Published by Orenda Books on March 15, 2017

Deadly Game starts off just a short while after the events of Wicked Game. I was told this book could be read fine as a standalone but I went back and read the first book in the series before starting Deadly Game anyway, and I’m glad that I did, not just because it’s a great book but also some of the events in book two were much clearer having read Wicked Game.

The beginning of Deadly Game cleverly and quickly gets the reader up to speed with a report of what has taken place previously and so it doesn't take long to get into the story of what is to unfold next. This isn't a book that instantly had me hooked but I found I was intrigued from the opening chapter and this kept bringing me back to the book. I picked it up a few times to read the first hundred or so pages and then I didn't put it down once until I finished the book. So it had gripped me after all.

Robert Finlay is not the most popular man with his fellow police force as he returns to work. His involvement in a high-profile case before this book begins has turned him into a bit of a liability. He is known now, and targeted, so it is impossible for him to continue down a similar case while he has a target above his head. Instead he is put on a case, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, investigating sex trafficking and the sex slave industry in Eastern Europe. In the opening chapter we meet Relia in 1999 Romania and this introduction to her character and the horrific situation she is placed in made for impactful reading and she was a character that remained on my mind even when I wasn’t reading.

Matt Johnson packs a hell of a lot of content into one book and delivers an interesting, shocking and thrillingly layered story with style. Deadly Game has a lot to offer and there was not one aspect of this book that didn’t engage me. One thing I loved about this book was that right from the first page, the scene is set, the atmosphere is built and with every little detail and every action, the words on the pages develop into events which are actually happening right in front of your eyes thanks to how easy the author makes them to picture. The writing is realistic and so even when the action isn’t rolling, the suspense is constantly raising and Deadly Game is one extremely tense novel.

It’s hard to review anything that happens in this book without not only spoiling Deadly Game but also spoiling the events of Wicked Game for anybody who hasn’t read that yet. I highly recommend you do pick both these books up though. If I’m honest I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy them myself as the military theme is not something I would often read, but now I’m in high anticipation for the third book.

The chapters here are short and snappy so once this book had me engrossed I soon found that “one more chapter” became “just a few more chapters” and then just a few more until the book came to an end. And what an end it was. There’s a dangerous feel to the plot in Deadly Game and come the end of every chapter I had that sense that I was closer to a twist or a betrayal or something that was going to surprise me, shock me or have me even more paranoid and questioning of people’s motives than I already was.

Having read both Wicked Game and Deadly Game I’ve found that the former was more action-packed whilst the latter was more suspenseful. Both are strong, credible thrillers. Through both darkly-lit novels, Finlay’s character shines as one who is, somewhat surprisingly in this genre, just a nice, decent family guy who to the reader comes across as a hero but I got the feeling that to himself personally he would find that flattering and almost unjustified. But I think he’s a great character and one that I really want to read more from. I can’t wait to read what’s next.

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