Contemporary gay romance and fantasy writer. Also loves flowers and bakes the occasional cake. Sometimes they're edible ...
Sophie Hannah always writes a gripping novel and this book is no exception. The main character Amber is both strong-minded and very mysterious, and you quickly become entangled in her life and the oddities of what's going on. The first three-quarters of the story is frankly a tour-de-force in how to write psychological thrillers, and it's only in the latter stages that there are some mis-steps and events and attitudes that simply don't fit. It's almost as if the puzzle Hannah sets up so very well is quite simply so enigmatic that it's impossible to unravel, in a reasonable way.
I first began getting second thoughts about the book's perfection when Amber's foster daughters invent a childhood game which everyone seems strangely shocked about. The game - which explains the book's title - is depicted as being something so off-kilter and judgemental that the unfortunate girls must be punished for it - and are themselves oddly frightened about admitting it. Well, to me, the game seemed to be just a bit of fun and - even as adults - something we all do ourselves, if only secretly. Heck, I certainly do! Either this means I'm a judgemental psychotic with no human compassion (say nothing here, please ...), or Hannah is making a huge mountain out of a very, very tiny molehill. Oh well.
The other aspect of these books I'm getting irritated (and rather bored) with is the relationship between the two detectives, Simon and Charlie, who are now married to each other. It seems to be stuck in some kind of strange twisted rut and I'm beginning to find them a bit dull, and Simon is certainly becoming pompous, at the very least. They both seriously need to get over themselves, and the other more normal detectives are much more approachable and interesting. I found myself skipping over the Simon/Charlie sections in order to get back to Amber or the other detectives.
Still, there's an excellent use of the hypnotherapist, Ginny, who grows in stature throughout the story - even though she didn't ever act like a professional therapist at any level. A fascinating character though. So, all in all, a good read, especially the first three-quarters, but don't expect the solution to the mystery will fully satisfy you.