I love Jeffery Deaver’s novels – he’s one of my go to authors that I’ll buy with barely a glance at the blurb, particularly when it comes to his series featuring Amelia Sachs and Lincoln Rhyme.
I was excited by his latest novel, The Never Game, with new protagonist Colter Shaw, and had the novel on pre-order.
A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.
An investigator running out of time.
Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.
A killer playing a dangerous game.
Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…
Colter Shaw is an interesting character, although he’s one that it took me a little while to warm to. He makes a living by collecting the rewards offered when a person goes missing, whether offered privately or through more official channels. It’s a job that has him running up and down the country, seeking out these rewards and helping to find the missing, whether they’ve run away or gone missing under more malicious circumstances. As he’s not part of any law enforcement agency (although he might let people assume that he is from time to time), and so he has a little more freedom than some investigators, although runs the risk of falling foul of the law himself should he overstep the mark. It’s an interesting and unusual set up, but it works brilliantly.
When Sophie goes missing, her father offers a reward, and this brings Shaw to his door. As he begins to investigate, he finds that he’s dealing with an incredibly complex case, particularly as a second and third person go missing, with little to connect the victims. Deaver is a master storyteller, and The Never Game proves to be as complicated and entertaining as the best of his novels. Many chapters end on a cliff-hanger, and beg the reader to keep going to find out what happens next. While all the clues were there, Deaver also throws in plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. Even knowing what to expect, I still didn’t work out what was going on until the big reveal.
Shaw had an unusual upbringing, and the reader gets little glimpses into his past throughout the novel. Home-schooled, Shaw and his siblings were taught survivalist skills such as tracking and hunting as well as the more traditional lessons around science and maths – skills that serve him well throughout the novel, despite the largely urban setting. It’s clear that there are some unanswered questions from Shaw’s past, and these flashbacks set up a thread which I expect to run through the series, with a little more information revealed each time until events come to a head.
The Never Game is an excellent start to a new series, and ends with Colter Shaw at a crossroads. It’s a great hook as, decision made, Shaw neglects to share his decision with the reader, leaving us questioning how he’ll proceed, and desperate for the next instalment as a result.