A promising series opener which sadly faded towards the finish. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to Random House and Transworld for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:
YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?
The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.
As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.
But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?
Gone is the opening installment of a new series which features an intriguing heroine. And Dr. Augusta Bloom comes as a breath of fresh air if you feel you’ve read about enough brilliant detectives with apparently obligatory issues with drink, drugs or family. The good doctor is instead a PhD psychologist, specialising in psychopathy, who collaborates with the police and, all in all, appears to be a fairly together individual who is still good at her job!
The set up and initial investigations are really well done. I was particularly pleased that it didn’t take long for our heroine to figure out what was going on and, even more shockingly, for the police to look at the blatant evidence in front of them and actually believe her, rather than (as in many other stories), saying she’s some sort of crackpot.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the last third of the book as much as the first two. I felt there was a lack of pay off from the set up. However, I do appreciate this is probably because, as a series opener, this book has to do a lot to put wheels in motion for future stories. Also, I didn’t find the big shock reveal at all shocking, which was a shame.
I think the most interesting aspect of the book was its nuanced view of psychopathy. Not all psychopaths or those with psychopathic traits are serial killers, but you should still watch your back around them!
Overall: An interesting and entertaining series opener which fell a little flat for me in the final act. I’ll be intertested to see where the series goes next.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul