DiscoverPsychological Thriller

The Girl in the Game

By

Not for me 😔

The Girl in the Game is one of those books that people are either going to love it or hate with little room for anything in between.

Synopsis

Ray Watts is recently—if not entirely happily—married. His art career is moribund and his heart just isn’t in his job writing zombie books. When his friend Jo brings her niece Faye to his struggling art gallery for a visit, he feels an instant spark.

His art career springs miraculously to life, and he’s enthralled with the tablet game Faye turned him onto. But there’s something strange about his new job, and, come to think of it, about that game too. Oh, and there are those local girls that have gone missing…

Soon everything Ray holds dear is at risk—his marriage, his new job and the people he loves.

The Girl in the Game is book three in the Ray of Darkness series. It also reads fine as a stand-alone.

I think The Girl in the Game is one of those books that people are either going to love or not with very little middle ground. Unfortunately, I landed in the latter category, and there are a couple of reasons for that.


First, let’s start with the series. This is book three in the Ray of Darkness series, and here’s where I’ll tell you that on the surface, this series should’ve been right up my alley. After reading the blurbs, I assumed that the series followed a couple of characters but could technically be read as standalones. Well, you know what they say about assuming things. I suppose that I was technically right about the standalone thing, but there were a few things I felt like I was missing while reading book three. It wasn’t anything huge, or at least I don’t think so, but the feeling was there.


Now, I’ll admit something. I did try to read the first two books in the series, but I just couldn’t get into them. So, it is possible that the attempt colored my opinion before starting this one. I like to think that I could’ve still gone into this one with an open mind, but in the interest of full disclosure, there is that chance.


As for this third book in the series, I did try. I really did, but I struggled all the way through this book. The story is quite busy, like messy busy. I have no problem keeping up, but the writing is choppy at times, and the conversations between the characters often feel stilted – neither of those did much in the way of improving my experience. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the busy storyline was intentional, but it just didn’t work for me.


Finally, we come to the characters, and honestly, I didn’t much care for any of them, including Ray. He drove me nuts pretty much from the start. I realize that certain things relied on certain actions from him, but he just didn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed with the decisions he made. And his wife isn’t much better. It reached a point that I caught myself rolling my eyes every time it was mentioned that she’s a lawyer. I get it, she knows legal stuff. Nuff said.


I think it’s safe to say that this book is definitely not for me. I do enjoy psychological thrillers, and I’m always up for a challenge, but this story and these characters challenged me past the point of entertainment. As I said, I do think this one will be loved by many, so there is a market for the story, it just missed its mark in me. 

Reviewed by

I am an avid reader, reviewer, and book blogger. I particularly enjoy romantic comedies, romantic suspense, and psychological thrillers but am not limited to those genres as my tastes in books run the gamut. My reviews are always completely honest. Love them or hate them, I call it as I read it.

Synopsis

Ray Watts is recently—if not entirely happily—married. His art career is moribund and his heart just isn’t in his job writing zombie books. When his friend Jo brings her niece Faye to his struggling art gallery for a visit, he feels an instant spark.

His art career springs miraculously to life, and he’s enthralled with the tablet game Faye turned him onto. But there’s something strange about his new job, and, come to think of it, about that game too. Oh, and there are those local girls that have gone missing…

Soon everything Ray holds dear is at risk—his marriage, his new job and the people he loves.

The Girl in the Game is book three in the Ray of Darkness series. It also reads fine as a stand-alone.

The door is stuck half open. I slip in and sweep my flashlight down the left tier of lockers. They’re stacked double, 101 on top of 103, 105 over 107. Rust nibbles at the edges of the gunmetal gray doors. One-oh-seven is mottled with orange, like a nasty skin rash, which spreads onto the next units, growing until the last, 129, is engulfed. It’s like the progression of a fatal disease, ventilation slats exhaling dying breaths.

Even-numbered lockers face the odds, a low wooden bench between them dividing the floor into two narrow paths. The right is buried under a jumble of collapsed ceiling panels. So I squeeze down the left side, ducking a florescent fixture dangling from ganglia of wires. Most doors gape a few inches. One-fifteen is wide open, a once-white towel hanging inside, furred with mildew and streaked with an inky glistening substance. The straps of a woman’s one-piece bathing suit spill from the bottom, moist and brown, like rotten leaves in a gutter. Perhaps it’s the source of the sick-bed smell. The floor is strewn with relics: a wooden hairbrush, tangled with black hair. Maroon plastic barrettes.

The room dead-ends at a cinderblock wall with passages to either side. To the right are communal showers, two cycles of drips echoing from beige tiles, like windshield wipers out of sync—the only sound aside from my socks scuffing the floor. To the left stand another set of lockers. These are full height. More expensive. They’re all closed. The last three on the left appear to have something growing in them. It’s bright orange, squeezing from the ventilation slats. Not my favorite color, and a butt-ugly shade of it. Call it “screaming orange.” At a glance it’s just more fungus. And who’s going to come in here, anyway? I can imagine a million better spots for a lover’s den.

Despite precautions, the contents of the three lockers are getting ripe, stronger than that sick-bed smell.

I turn and get down on all fours. It’s tight, but I can crawl. I leave the way I came, brushing away the faint prints of stockinged feet with my gloves. Through the lower-class section, past that smelly one-piece to the entrance. I stand and squeeze out.

There’s no hint out here of that stink. Just normal decay. Do smells move, flow like water? If so, it’ll take time.

No one will ever find them in those lockers. And there are twenty-seven more.

About the author

John Manchester has written about the arts, life and growing up with his late father, the historian William Manchester, for Salon.com and Cognoscenti. Before writing, John made a living writing positive happy music. Now he writes dark psychological mystery/thrillers. view profile

Published on March 20, 2020

Published by

120000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Reviewed by

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