I’ve always enjoyed Luca Veste’s books (see my review of Veste’s The Six). In The Game, Veste continues his commentary on contemporary urban myth as the eponymous game refers to the increasingly bizarre challenges that a group of people play that lead to their deaths. Since the book was published, we’ve all watched Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix which similarly features a woman acting strangely in a lift before she disappears. Similarly in The Game, the police have footage of some of the victims acting strangely in public and in lifts. The most shocking aspect of the book is that it is all too real in the last few years and it plays on our familiarity with the increasingly ridiculous social media crazes, pranks, and dares that we are so familiar with. The Game goes one step closer to show us how peer pressure could potentially manifest on the Dark Web.
The main protagonist, Detective Constable Mark Flynn, is investigating the disappearance of a young girl, Emily Burns, from a suburb of Liverpool. His investigation of her family, particularly her indifferent siblings and her overly-involved uncle, make it an unusual case. Soon after Emily’s disappearance, the body of a young girl that is not Emily is found and Mark is convinced that the two cases are linked in some way.
The book stunningly tackles several issues that are all too pervasive in our online world today as it cleverly plays all the all-pervasive control and influence that social media can have on some peoples’ lives, particularly younger people. Interestingly, the main narrative is interwoven with several chapters in which someone is being interviewed in Lancaster Police Station about the mysterious game but we must wait until the end to find out who it is and how they are involved.
As always, Veste has written a thoroughly entertaining, gritty thriller that centres on an increasingly threatening social theme whilst, at the same time, examining the structure of the procedural.
Simon & Schuster UK, 12 November, 2020
About the writer
Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Liverpudlian heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He studied psychology and criminology at the University in Liverpool. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi series, which includes DEAD GONE, THE DYING PLACE, BLOODSTREAM, and THEN SHE WAS GONE.
Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, his books follow the detective pairing of DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi. The novels are set in Liverpool, bringing the city to life in a dark and terrifying manner…with just a splash of Scouse humour.