Friday, July 5, 2019

Review: The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

The Never Game (Colter Shaw, #1)
by Jeffery Deaver
Release Date: May 14th 2019
2019 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Hardcover Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0525535942
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

A young woman has gone missing in Silicon Valley and her father has hired Colter Shaw to find her. The son of a survivalist family, Shaw is an expert tracker. Now he makes a living as a "reward seeker," traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. But what seems a simple investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of America's tech hub and the cutthroat billion-dollar video-gaming industry.

When another victim is kidnapped, the clues point to one video game with a troubled past--The Whispering Man. In that game, the player has to survive after being abandoned in an inhospitable setting with five random objects. Is a madman bringing the game to life?

Shaw finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game, risking his own life to save the victims even as he pursues the kidnapper across both Silicon Valley and the dark 'net. Encountering eccentric game designers, trigger-happy gamers and ruthless tech titans, he soon learns that he isn't the only one on the hunt: someone is on his trail and closing fast.

My Thoughts
The Never Game is the first book in a new series for Jeffery Deaver and I was quite excited to read this as I am a huge fan of his other work. I like that his characters tend to be unusual, and often come with unexpected surprises that make you think a bit differently about a situation.  This series introduces a different type of hero, one who makes a living solving crimes that offer rewards.  I was intrigued from the get-go.

What I really liked about Colter Shaw is the fact that he is not a registered PI, he is not a cop, he is not a federal agent, but is a citizen, with some specialized talents honed by his father as he was growing up, trying to help people find/locate loved ones gone missing.  For a reward, yes, but as I began to realize as I was reading the story, there is definitely more to the story than meets the eye and all was definitely not revealed in this book.  Colter is a very clever man and as the story developed, I grew rather fond of him.  He's got this really dry wit, plus he's a little cynical, and I like that.  He's also a bit mysterious and the author introduces just enough about his past and his life to tantalize and wonder what is really going on with him.  He has this back-up team that he uses to help him find information and I would love to know how all of that came about.  

I have read enough Deaver books to be aware of the traps in his novels, but I have to give credit where credit is due as I realized the importance of the secondary story line a bit too late.  So, without giving too much away, there is actually a couple of things happening in this book and it was quite easy to get too focused on one and not pay attention to the other which actually sets up the next book in this series.  Clever writing on the author's part I'd have to say.  That being said, I did find it a bit slow in the middle section but I enjoyed learning more about the video-gaming world, something I know next to nothing about.  You can tell that a lot of research went into this story, a story that for the most part, moves rather quickly, and is full of quirky characters.

The Never Game is an enjoyable first entry into a new series, and I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes future sequels.  Colter is a great new protagonist; I like his dry witticism and his intelligence (he did go to law school), plus the fact that he is very capable in the outdoors.  The story moved quite quickly with a couple of story lines, both of which you need to pay attention to, although it was quite easy to get wrapped up in the kidnapping case, forgetting about the other one. Done intentionally? Not sure, but interesting.  Definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, and highly recommend this one.