On paper Dead Game sounded very much like my sort of book. Driven by her past experiences Emily Stone has devoted herself to catching child killers, but when her partner Lopez's mentor is killed she becomes involved in finding a twisted murderer who is selecting his victims through an online spy game. The hunters become the hunted though and it ends in a battle to the death.
However despite my enthusiasm for the book and starting it being convinced I'd really enjoy it I came away from it feeling rather flat. When I was offered the book for review no mention was made that it was in fact a sequel, something I've just realised as I started to prepare to write the review. This may account for one of my first criticisms. Emily is a cop turned vigilante who faked her own death after being stalked by a serial killer. This is a big part of her motivation but merited only a few rushed mentions and no real details to allow the reader to understand her better. Even if it was intended to only be read in conjunction with others in the series and in sequence, I have read other books where important info like that is recapped in more detail for readers who might pick a tale up at random.
Perhaps as a result of the lack of background I couldn't find myself empathising with Emily. Although some would argue hunting down child abductors and murderers is a valuable service she herself commits murder and has committed insurance fraud. Coupling that with her apparently finding being in proximity to her prey a turn on didn't make her a character I warmed to. I don't think the multiple view points employed in the book helped. In some cases it allows greater development of the plot but here I think sticking with just one or two POVs would have given the reader better insight into the characters. Unfortunately come the final showdown I didn't really care who lived or died.
I also found some of the book pretty implausible. Okay, I'll accept the idea of two ex-cops going round the country hunting down criminals, managing to keep below the radar as she is officially dead. However the under-cover FBI agent who arms and brings a civilian in on the final confrontation with the suspected serial killer? That seemed like a step too far for me, especially when Emily later describes him as a competent agent.
Finally the narrative was lots of tell and not enough show, with too much needless repetition and more than a couple of typos. I wouldn't go as far as to give this book 1* because the villain of the piece and the use of modern technology to select victims weren't bad at all. However as it stands all I could say is that I thought it was okay.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 2*