When a young woman goes missing in Silicon Valley, Colter Shaw is hired to find her . . . and in the process, stumbles upon a much bigger, darker, game playing out with murderous consequences.
Nowadays, it’s pretty rare for an established, annual bestselling author to step away from their beloved series to kick off a new franchise. However, that’s exactly what Deaver, a veteran crime novelist, did here—and the payoff was big. Honestly, I know it’s only one book, but for my money, Shaw is the more intriguing character between he and Lincoln Rhyme, the protagionist Deaver is best known for. That, obviously, is not intended to be a shot at Rhyme, but rather praise for Colter Shaw and the direction of this new series, which starts with a bang.
Just ahead of The Never Game coming out, Jeffrey Deaver agreed to partake in our Five Questions segment, and I asked him about everything from how he came up with the story idea for this book to when we might see Lincoln Rhyme again. See the full Q&A below, then click here to order your copy of The Never Game, in stores everywhere May 14, 2019.
TRBS: This book sucked me in right away and never let go! How did you come up with the story idea for The Never Game?
Deaver: I appreciate your thoughts! That’s my goal: to write a nonstop roller coaster of a book.
As for the genesis of The Never Game: Some years ago I wrote an Edgar-nominated series about a location scout for Hollywood, traveling around the country and looking for places to set movies. Naturally, all hell broke loose when he came to town and he played amateur private eye and gunslinger to save the day. I loved the idea of an itinerate, stranger-comes-to-town hero. But the Hollywood aspect was a limitation, and I’ve wanted to break my traveling hero free. So I created Colter Shaw, who pursues rewards for a living.
As for the video game/Silicon Valley angle, I’m always looking for up-to-the-minute “hooks” for my novels—themes that will resonate in everyday life, while bringing the opportunity for murder and mayhem close to home. I loved the idea that some might (or might not) have been motivated to commit a crime by a truly creepy video game.
TRBS: What kind of research did you have to do before actually sitting down to write this one?
Deaver: I did a great deal of research, as I always do. As you’ll see in my next comment, I don’t start a book until all preplanning is done. Most of my research is from books and the internet, though I did talk to some friends who were very helpful. Yes, I did try a few video games, and my lack of skill at staying alive and conquering the bad guys (or monsters) was legendary.
TRBS: What is your writing process like? Do you have a set time that you write each day? Do you outline your stories, have a target word count that you try to hit each day?
Deaver: I spend eight months outlining and researching all of my books. My theory is that a thriller has to be carefully planned ahead of time to make sure it’s the most emotionally engaging it can be. Some authors do that as they go along—and successfully. I can’t. The outline gives me the chance to get an overview and make sure the book is like a symphony: Slow movements, followed by fast, all leading to a crescendo, followed by a slower, more thoughtful ending. Also, my books must feature three or four surprise endings, and only through outlining can I structure those twists so they work credibly. The outline for The Never Game was about 140 pages long.
During those eight months I also do the research.
TRBS: Colter Shaw is a fantastic new character. How is he different from your other fan-favorite character, Lincoln Rhyme, and is he based on a real-life person or completely fictional?
Deaver: Thank you. Colter is the antithesis of Lincoln in some ways. While Lincoln—by virtue of his disability (he’s a quadriplegic) and nature (he’s reclusive)—stays close to home in New York City, Colter travels the country in search of rewards offered for escaped criminals, missing persons and so on. Also, Lincoln is a scientist, who believes that’s the best, if not only, way to solve crimes. Colter uses psychology and Sherlock-Holmes deduction (and occasionally, his combat skills) to track down the bad guy or find the missing person.
They are alike in that they’re classic heroes: Persistent, smart, courageous and—in my hero world—have wry senses of humor and little patience for laziness or incompetence.
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you now that The Never Game is finally set to hit bookstores, and when can readers expect to see Lincoln Rhyme again?
Deaver: I’m working on both another Colter Shaw novel and a Lincoln Rhyme novel. I’m also thinking about having them meet at some point, but when and why….well, I’ll have to keep that a secret; after all, my job is creating suspense, right?
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.