Review: Anders de La Motte – Game

18277930Game, the first book in a trilogy by Anders de La Motte, has been developing a head of steam when it comes to book sales. I noticed even my local Tesco’s promoting it, and it’s not difficult to see why. Unlike much of Scandinavian crime fiction, with its focus on setting and the domestic, Game is a completely different type of read. We’re plunged into a world of cyber competitions where the lines between what is real and fiction are blurred.

Henrik (HP) Petterson finds a mobile phone on a Stockholm train which he intends to pocket and sell for hard cash. Instead, he is offered the chance to play ‘The Game’ with an immediate first challenge: to steal an umbrella off a commuter. He accepts the task and assumes that it’s a prank being played be one of his techie friends. However, he soon realises that he has become part of a wider online community consisting of watchers, participators and controllers of ‘The Game’. Meanwhile his sister, Rebecca, a police detective assigned to an elite bodyguard unit discovers that HP is involved in dangerous and illegal activities and, as he threatens to expose the mechanics of ‘The Game’, the hunter becomes the hunted.

You can immediately see why this book is so popular. Unlike so much I read, I can think of at least ten people who’d love this book. In essence, those who spend disproportionate time on their mobile phones. The book isn’t satire and yet it provides a horrible sense of what can happen when you lose track of reality and enter a parallel world of rivalry and increasingly amoral challenges. It’s a fast paced read and great fun. It has the feel of a film script and I wouldn’t be surprised is the story becomes a movie, so compelling is the action.

I did, occasionally, have a sense of deja vu when reading the book.The plot has echoes of some great movies: in particular The Matrix and Phone Booth although that’s not to say the novel felt particularly derivative, just that it drew on the tradition of cyber/technology conspiracy already out there. For a debut novel, it’s a cracking start to a writing career and I’m keen to see how the plot develops over the rest of the trilogy, which has already been published.

I’ve already passed my book on to one of those ten people. You can’t say fairer than that.

Thanks to Blue Door (Harper Collins) for my review copy. The translation was by Neil Smith.