A Book Spy Review: ‘The Never Game’ by Jeffery Deaver

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The Never GameAfter 14 books centered around Lincoln Rhyme, veteran thriller author Jeffery Deaver kicks off a new series following “reward seeker” Colter Shaw. 

Sophie Mulliner, a well-liked college student, has suddenly gone missing, and her father, Frank, is offering $10,000 to anyone who can help find her. Enter Colter Shaw, a non-private detective who thinks like a detective but travels the country aiding police and other investigators for cash rewards.

Genius-level smart and in need of 10k, Colter heads to Silicon Valley and agrees to help look for Sophie, even though he claims the math suggests she’s already dead, and quickly links her abduction to a series of other missing person reports.

As it turns out, two other victims also need saving, and it’s Shaw who connects the kidnapper’s actions to that of a video game called The Whispering Man, in which the player must find a way to survive being dumped and left in an inhospitable setting with nothing but five random objects to help them along the way. Realizing that someone has brought the game to life in horrifying, disturbing detail, Colter is frustrated that the local detective, Dan Wiley, and Bay Area police didn’t follow the same leads he did—causing him to question their methods.

As his search for the missing women jumps between real life and the dark web, Shaw suddenly finds himself sucked into a game of cat-and-mouse with the madman behind it all, and he’s not the only one in hot pursuit. Unbeknownst to Colter, a bigger reveal is waiting—and if he’s not careful, he could lose everything . . . including his life. 

Rarely do perennial New York Times bestselling authors leave their bread-and-butter franchise, especially after fourteen books, to step away and kick off a new one. Readers, who become attached to series characters, don’t always embrace the newcomer, making such a move risky, to say the least. All that said, Deaver should take a bow, as his risk paid off in spades. Not only is Colter Shaw one of the year’s best new characters, but his background and personality make him more intriguing and entertaining than Lincoln Rhyme, Deaver’s longtime, fan-favorite hero.

A wanderer in the vein of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash, Shaw is the son of a recently deceased (under suspicious circumstances, mind you) survivalist, and his unorthodox upbringing lends itself nicely to the story. Deaver knows just how much background to provide, offering enough about Colter’s past to flesh him out and explain how he became such an experienced tracker—while leaving enough on the table to keep you wanting more, which he’ll no doubt touch on in future books. As for the gaming stuff, some of the descriptions get a little tech-heavy, but Deaver proves good at re-explaining things in layman’s terms, making it easy to understand. So whether you’re a hardcore gamer or total newb to the tech scene, readers will be just fine following along.

Well-plotted and built on an intriguing premise and an exciting new character, The Never Game delivers in a big way and is one of Jeffery Deaver’s best thrillers in years. 

Book Details

Author: Jeffery Deaver
Series: Colter Shaw #1
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525535942
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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