The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver #BookReview

A young woman has gone missing in Silicon Valley and her father has hired Colter Shaw to find her. The son of a survivalist family, Shaw is an expert tracker. Now he makes a living as a “reward seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. But what seems a simple investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of America’s tech hub and the cutthroat billion-dollar video-gaming industry.

Title: The Never Game| Author: Jeffrey Deaver | Series: Colter Shaw #1 | Publisher: HarperCollins | Pages: 400| ISBN: 9780008303723| Publication date: 16th May 2019| Source: NetGalley

I read the first few of Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme books back in the 1990s/early 2000s and really liked them. I was also a big fan of his WW2 thriller ‘Garden of Beasts’. I was excited, then, to read ‘The Never Game’, which is being touted as the first in a new series from him. Unfortunately, my excitement was misplaced. 20 years ago, ‘The Bone Collector’ felt fresh and compelling; by comparison, ‘The Never Game’ is tired and distinctly uninvolving.

The plot is okay, but no more than that. Someone is kidnapping upstanding citizens and imprisoning them in bizarre locales where they have a slim chance of escaping. Deaver’s new hero, Colter Shaw, is an investigator who finds missing persons for a reward. He’s also a slightly weird survivalist type with a lot of back story and a bad case of much better at most things than anyone else. In other words, he’s like the heroes of a thousand other low rent thrillers. That’s disappointing, because Lincoln Rhyme was such a great creation, by comparison Shaw is massively uninteresting.  

The kidnappings are linked in some way to a popular video game, and the book ends up adopting a structure similar to levels in a game. This was reasonably successful, but the overload of information about gaming that accompanies it was not. It feels like Deaver decided that the video game industry would make a good backdrop for a mystery, set his researcher off to find out about it, and then felt compelled to use every single fact they came back with, whether it was relevant to the plot or not. We end up with tonnes of detail which slows the story down.

I feel like I often end up saying this in my reviews, but I think a good editor could have tightened it up enough that I’d have enjoyed it more. That wouldn’t have solved the problems with Shaw, but it might at least have meant that I got to the end of the book actually caring whodunnit.

2/5

I feel like I often end up saying this in my reviews, but I think a good editor could have tightened it up enough that I’d have enjoyed it more. That wouldn’t have solved the problems with Shaw, but it might at least have meant that I got to the end of the book actually caring whodunnit.

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