“GAMES PEOPLE PLAY,”
BY OWEN MULLEN
PUBLICATION: BLOODHOUND BOOKS; JANUARY 16, 2017
Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.
Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.
Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved In the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.
Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?
For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.
His demons won’t let him.
To begin – what an outstanding novel! “Games People Play” is the recent suspense/crime/thriller release from author Owen Mullen and it was amazing. The novel begins with Jennifer Hamilton almost drowning and while her husband, Mark rescues her someone kidnaps their young baby, Lily. A few days later we meet Charlie Cameron, a private investigator that specializes in locating missing people, although he’s not exactly overloaded with clients and cases. Mark Hamilton thinks that his daughter’s disappearance is tied to Donna, an angry woman that he had an affair with, and hires Charlie to locate her. Despite Charlie’s pleading with the man to contact the police about the matter, Mark wants it kept a private investigation, and Charlie agrees. Soon after, Charlie is hired by another family searching for their daughter, Alison, who disappeared after a night out with friends. Charlie soon finds himself, and his sort-of assistant, Pat, searching for someone that may have kidnapped a baby, as well as, a young woman that may have run off with her older teacher.
As the novel progresses, we are introduced to Andrew Geddes, a police detective and longtime friend of Charlie’s, Jackie, who manages the bar in the NYB building where Charlie’s office is located, a rocker chick named Kat, and many other interesting characters that enrich the story. Early on, the author reveals Charlie’s drive in locating missing persons and that it involves a girl named Pamela, but those details are released slowly throughout the novel. It is also learned that Charlie has ongoing issues with his successful father, who deals in politics and whiskey-making. Other fascinating characters are Ronnie, a retired police detective that worked Pamela’s case, Lucy, Donna’s alcoholic sister, and a young mail-order bride that shows up from Thailand expecting to marry Alison’s older teacher, Frank.
I hope that wasn’t all overwhelming but there are so many characters and subplots it’s difficult to review this novel without somewhat of an overview of all the different players involved, as well as, all of their different issues. The author has created an enormous variety of personalities in this book which added to the suspense and surprise. I found myself constantly questioning different character’s motives and wondering who was telling the truth about what. Little by little things begin to unfold and reveal themselves, several of which I never expected or saw coming!
I did struggle with some of the relationship dynamics in the novel, especially between Charlie and Jackie. Perhaps I missed something important early on, but I was never clear as to the reasoning behind their constant bickering. I also found Charlie’s relationship with Kat rather awkward, not sure if it was her or him, but it just felt like something was missing. While reading I learned a lot of in-depth information about several characters, several that were wonderfully complex, but with Charlie, I was left wanting a little more. I think he could have been further developed, especially since I honestly have no idea what the man even looked like.
Other than those small characterization issues, I found this novel to be fast-paced, surprising, gripping, and it left me dying to read the next installment. Owen Mullen has become one of my favorite authors in one day and “Games People Play” has quickly landed on my Top 20 Books Ever list. With the flawless writing, non-stop suspense and twists and turns, this is about as good as it gets when it comes to a suspense/crime thriller. Bravo to Owen Mullen, I cannot wait to read more from him in the future!
*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.