Films and Books Reviews The Game “Hugely cinematic thriller with hilarious dark comic moments.”

Nov. 11, 2006 – Directly quoted from Films and Books Magazine, with permission (

Title: The Game
Author: Derek Armstrong
Publisher: Kunati Books
ISBN: 9781601640017
Price: $24.95

Premise and Originality: 10 out of 10
Characterization: 8 out of 10
Dialogue: 9 out of 10
Storyline: 9 out of 10

Fathering two teenage daughters, you’d think detective Alban Bane would have enough to fret about, but in The Game, a hugely cinematic thriller with hilarious dark comic moments, we find him quickly dealing with headless corpses. Not that headless corpses give you much trouble because they’re usually real still and don’t talk back and you don’t have to worry about making meaningful eye contact with them, it’s just that this scrappy, witty cop is pretty motivated to find out how they lost so much weight real quick … especially after he gets a creepy letter inviting him to come find out. This is an irresistible story that centers around a new American reality television show called Haunted Survivor, where a boiling-pot mix of soon-to-be-dead-but-they-don’t know-it-yet contestants see how long they can survive in an old Vermont mansion haunted by its former occupant, a mass murder, who left the planet in the first chapter by execution by lethal injection. Survive and get one million dollars, but these contestants are having a hard time surviving. They’re having an easy time, however, getting slaughtered. You’ve got to love a novel that crystallizes, in a single line, our squirmy fascination with this sort of thing, delivered by Haunted Survivor’s uptight producer who finally becomes good and unstrung at the end of the story herself, “We’re assuming,” she said, “America’s fascination with reality television and crime will continue.” Sure does, lady. Sure does. And you’ve got to love a thriller, like all great literate thrillers, that makes you feel pretty sure you know who the killer is … but guess what. Depending on how you lean, Bane pulls for the Boston Red Sox, so this gives him a dangerous or desperate quality, or both. The poor cop’s pretty beat up by the end of the story, but he knows how to take a bullet and a good stabbing and bleed all over the place as he attempts to save one of those pesky teenage daughters of his who got caught up in the slaughter. Bane doesn’t know it, but one of the best fight scenes you’ll ever read … and there are a bunch of them in The Game … is being videotaped by the show’s sinister creator, and later shown as a news clip as a testament to Bane’s professional viciousness. Good job, Dad, saving your daughter’s head like that. Videotape is fine for now, but from the first few lines of The Game, you can see this book on the big screen, too. Of course, by then you’ll know who the killer is … but who cares. We’re fascinated with reality television and crime and we just can’t help it … because it’s so much bloody fun.

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