Monday, 7 September 2015

"The Game Changer" by Louise Phillips.

I received an ARC of this title from Hachette Ireland...

Dr.  Kate Pearson is back.  Entering a  new stage in her life, she has taken time off work to spend her days with her son and new partner.  However, the clinical psychologist in her does not take long to surface when she receives strange notes at her home.
Meanwhile, a murder in New York is linked in someway to a death in Dublin and Kate's father is among the names linked with the victim's past.  When she hears of her father's involvement in a research group back in the 1980s, it brings back some long suppressed memories.  But can she remember enough to connect her traumatic childhood with the present-day death?  

DI Adam O'Connor is dealing with some strange disappearances.  A random mixture of adults have chosen to leave their friends, families and homes but not before withdrawing large amounts of cash from their bank accounts.  While they all leave messages to assure their safety, the DI is unconvinced.  All the missing had been attending spiritual guidance and meditation classes, setting off alarm bells for O'Connor and his team.  Is there something more sinister at play?

This is Louise Phillips fourth crime thriller book featuring Dr. Kate Pearson and DI O'Connor.  They are now living together and trying to find their feet as a couple, as well as parents to their respective sons.  Kate is on a sabbatical but is not switching off so well.  Anonymous notes are delivered to their home and are causing her many sleepless nights.  Adam is tied up with a transatlantic murder inquiry and is not telling her the whole story.  The missing persons list is growing and growing, yet there doesn't seem to be any signs of foul play.  Just a lot of missing cash.  Why does Kate feel so scared and unsure of herself?  Is her past finally catching up with her, without her even remembering what happened back then?

This is a novel of twists, turns and roundabouts.  A new roadway is discovered around every corner and you just don't know what is around the bend.  You think you are finally getting somewhere, then, bang....a new sign appears.  There are many markings on the map of this story,  but can you trust your judgement?  Can you believe what you see?  
There are really two main threads to this novel.  There is the mystery of Kate's past and the Irish connection to a New York murder, then the story of the missing persons and their reasons for leaving.  Kate and Adam seem to be ships passing in the night and their earlier electricity has now faded to a glow.  They both seem far too set in their own individual ways to work well as an equal couple, ready to give up a piece of themselves or their chosen careers.   The chapters on individual characters, who have left their homes suddenly, were the strong ones in this book.  Each person has a reason for leaving.  They are vulnerable and prime-picking for users of clever mind-games.  Phillips cleverly shows how minds can be moulded when a person is at their weakest.  The idea of 'belonging' or of being 'understood' is so strong that some people will not see what is blatantly obvious to a more content and centered person.  
 There are facts, figures and real-life examples dotted through the novel, perhaps unnecessarily, but it is up to the reader whether to read more into the real-life stories or not.  The chapters are short and snappy, flicking back and forth between Kate, The Game Changer and a host of other characters.  Louise Phillips is not afraid of shocking her readers.  Once again, there is murder and mayhem along the bumpy ride.  This is a crime writer who is not afraid to lead her readers off the beaten path...

The Game Changer is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in  TBP and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:



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