Review: The Murder Game by Rachel Abbott

Opening sentence: “I reach for the door handle with shaking fingers, wishing I’d said no – that I’d refused to play the game that is planned for tonight.”

Are you ready to play The Murder Game? As you may have guessed from the title, this is a psychological thriller that has a pretty sinister – but very clever – premise to its plot. The characters are (unwittingly) invited to play a murder mystery game that intends to reveal one of them as an actual murderer. No role play involved.

The Murder Game Rachel Abbott book review

The emotional rollercoaster that is this pandemic means I’m never sure what reading mood I’ll be in from one day to the next. I’ve found myself starting a few books, but then the next day not being in the mood to finish them. It was in one of these indecisive moods that I picked up The Murder Game, planning to just read the first few pages and see what its tone was. Well, it turned out to be just what I was looking for, I couldn’t stop reading it!

So what’s the story?

Lucas is rich, rich, rich, lives in a fantastic house on the Cornish coast and is getting married. He invites his three closest friends and their partners to stay at his house for the wedding. However, tragedy strikes on the eve of the wedding as Lucas’ sister, Alex, apparently commits suicide.

Flash forward one year later and Lucas invites the same six people back to his house and it becomes clear that he has an agenda (the aforementioned murder game…). The story is majoritively narrated by Jemma – an outsider in the sense she’s the wife of Matt (Lucas’ childhood friend) and so gives us a great, subjective view point of events as they gradually grow out of everyone’s control. Lucas is convinced one of his friends murdered his sister and will go to any lengths to discover which one it was.

There is jealousy, contempt, disappointment – a whole host of feelings weaving their tendrils around us all. There is something dangerous in the air, and I can’t ignore it.

The Murder Game is the second book to feature Detective Sergeant Stephanie King (the first was And So It Begins, which I haven’t read yet, but based on this blurb I soon will). Interestingly for a book that’s part of a detective series, DS Stephanie King actually doesn’t feature very heavily in the novel at all. We get a glimpse into her personal life and likeable character, but this story is driven by events that she is investigating.

The ending did leave me with a slight raised eyebrow, but I whizzed through this in two afternoons in the garden as it’s effortless to read with a fast-paced plot and I was pulled into the story instantly. If you’re looking for a bit of pure escapism right now, I’d recommend adding The Murder Game to your TBR. I’ll definitely be keeping a lookout for the next Stephanie King book too, she’s a fictional detective I’d like to get to know more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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