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Master of the Game

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 TITLE: Master of the Game

 AUTHOR: William Tepper

 ISBN: 0-9747644-0-x

 Genre: Serial killer/crime/thriller

  John Walsh-CLICK TO VIEW>>>>>John Walsh's Reviews.

An unknown killer is kidnapping, raping and murdering young women and no one has any idea who he might be. Possessing almost superhuman abilities to disguise his height, his gender and all aspects of his appearance, together with ferocious mental abilities and an unstated yet significant source of income, there seems to be no reason why Simon should ever be caught. Indeed, he seems to have taken dozens of women before the novel begins and flushed away their remains as if they never had lived.

Yet this is not enough for Simon. His compulsions require him to be known as the best – the most efficient and deadly, presumably – serial killer that there has ever been. He wants to be known as the ‘master of the game.’ Consequently, he engages in a long-term game with the principal figures of the FBI investigation, threatening them not just with any old abductions but with threats to their own wives, daughters and girl friends. And Simon is so good at his task that he might just get away with it.

In this exciting and readable crime thriller, first time novelist William Tepper has created a memorable villain and some interesting characters. There are many surprises along the way and one or two genuinely scary moments. If we are asked to believe that Simon’s behaviour is entirely to be explained by his childhood abuse, then this kind of Freudian reductionism is par for the course in this form of literature and, indeed, it informs a great deal of character analysis in modern American culture.

However, there are some problems with the book. The main police character, John Hightower, is considered the very best person at identifying who serial killers are by managing to imagine himself into being them. Hightower devotes himself night and day to this task over a period of months – he neglects his own health and what social relationships he has fall to pieces. Yet, frankly, he manages to obtain an extremely low level of information about his quarry and nothing that is of any real use. Further, there is none of the sense of the relentless, tedious footwork that marks out real life murder or kidnapping investigations. Instead, we are told several times that all of the possible tracks left by Simon simply come to nothing. This is a problem because we never have any real sense that the police might get close to the killer unless he himself makes a mistake. This reduces the tension.    

In all, this is an agreeable story without being a world beater. Aficionados of serial killers will find it an enjoyable addition to the genre.

John Walsh, Shinawatra International University, October 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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