**** - The Players
In this game it’s kill or be killed
A stranger has you cornered. They call themselves The Host. You are forced to play their game. In it one person can live and the other must die.
You are the next player. You have a choice to make.
This is a game where nobody wins…
The Players from the outset sounded like the perfect book for me – a crime thriller with a deadly game at the heart of it? Yes please! I loved the psychological elements of the book – a mysterious host with an obsession with the trolley problem and showing people that they really will do whatever it takes to survive. I enjoyed the ideas of the games – they were gory and interesting and kept me hooked to find out how they would escalate and what would happen next. I also liked that the book pulled no punches with who it would target or what would happen to certain characters. I thought the split perspectives between the Host and DI Karen Holt kept the book at a good pace throughout.
My main criticism with the book was the insinuation that the entire Police force was completely inept, and that Karen was the only one able to get into the mindset of the killer despite having no previous experiences or special training to back this fact up. Once I’d perhaps understand – some different perspective to help break the case open, but every member of the police force seemed unable to make a decision or find a clue without the help of someone not assigned to the case and without all of their resources. This felt really unrealistic and made me roll my eyes on occasion. I did like the character of Karen though, her flaws and panic attacks as well as the fact she is currently off-duty pending an investigation made her a really interesting main character. I also liked that she is gay but there was no fanfare or big deal made out of this - Sam her wife was just treated as any other partner in a crime thriller and I appreciated that.
I did find the ‘reveal’ of the perpetrator to be a little disappointing and I wished we’d had a few encounters with them unbeknownst to our main characters earlier in the plot. This would have made the reveal hit a little harder whereas it just felt a little convenient with a tenuous link in the end.
Overall, The Players is a gruesome crime thriller which is well paced and keeps you hooked. Thank you to NetGalley & HQ Stories for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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