Title: A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling standalone psychological thriller with an unforgettable ending from the New York Times bestselling author of Woman with a Secret and The Monogram Murders.
You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.
You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.
You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.
Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .
This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.
A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah is a perplexing mystery within a mystery. Following their move from London to the bucolic countryside, Justine Merrison begins getting a series threatening phone calls she believes might be tied to her fourteen year old daughter Ellen’s writing project.
Having recently quit her stressful job in television, Justine is looking forward to doing Nothing. The first few months of life in their new house are idyllic but the first disquieting phone calls occurs on the same day she finds out Ellen is upset about her friend George’s expulsion from school. When Justine tries to intervene on George’s behalf, she is stunned to learn there is no George so therefore, there was no expulsion. Despite a few doubts, Justine believes Ellen’s story and she is determined to get to the bottom of what happened and find out why the school is lying to her. At the same time, she continues receiving telephone calls that are increasingly sinister. She is also growing concerned about Ellen’s writing project about a murder mystery that appears to be based on real life events but her search for more information leads to one dead end after another. Believing all of these events are somehow linked, Justine begins her own investigation but will she uncover the truth before it is too late?
The premise of A Game for All the Family is certainly unique but the execution of the story falls a little flat. The chapters alternate between the present day events and Ellen’s story and while, initially both story arcs are interesting, there is little progression in either storyline. The dual storylines are written in two distinct voices but Ellen’s murder mystery is so incredibly implausible that it eventually detracts from the main storyline. With each incredulous plot twist, the novel becomes a convoluted mess of highly improbable coincidences.
All in all, this latest release by Sophie Hannah’s is an entertaining but overly long and somewhat bizarre mystery that readers will have to suspend disbelief to enjoy.