(9. - 1081.) The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver - I love tracking down people books or the reverse of escaping trackers books. Over two decades ago I loved the early Jane Whitefield books of Thomas Perry in which Jane helped people disappear. In The Never Game, Colter Shaw finds people. There is no shortage of missing people to be found. As a “reward seeker” he makes his living from the rewards he is paid for finding the missing.
He parks his Winnebago at a trailer park in Silicon Valley and visits the modest shabby home of Frank Mulliner. His daughter, Sophie known as Fee, is missing. Mulliner is deeply worried as Sophie has not been in contact with him concerning her dog, Luka.
As with Ava Lee from the series by Ian Hamilton, Colter starts each case with a blank notebook for writing down information and ideas.
Colter is a calculating tracker. While observation helps he spends more time assessing what he thinks the missing person would have done. Taught by his father he determines the percentages of any prospective action. He puts possibilities at percentages and rigorously goes with the highest percentage. It is very logical but highly dependent on Colter’s ability to be accurate in his percentages.
The search for Sophie swiftly produces results. It felt too easy. The kidnapper’s actions after grabbing Sophie do not quite make sense. The police are rather crudely drawn. Colter manages to get surprised a touch too often. Is Deaver, a master of deception, playing with the reader?
Colter meets Maddie Poole, a young woman who is a gamer girl working in the video game industry playing and reviewing games. Colter is virtually an alien to her. When he was young his university professor father and psychiatrist / professor mother moved off grid to live on 1,000 acres in the wilderness near the Sierra National Forest. They call their place the Compound. While Colter grew up with rooms full of books the family had no connection to the internet and he never played video games. Trying out a new 3D game with googles and a controller is a new experience. Maddie leaves him unsettled.
Another kidnapping takes place. With the second kidnapping the book gets away from stereotypes and into a complex fast moving investigation with a wickedly clever villain.
Colter becomes a consultant for the police aiding Detective LaDonna Standish in pursuit of “The Whispering Man”. He is a killer to rival the most diabolical killers in Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes series.
I was strongly reminded of the Lincoln Rhymes series with a survivalist loner instead of a quadreplegic loner pursuing a highly intelligent killer who enjoys being creative with victims and pursuers. When Colter is joined by Standish, a highly competent female police officer skilled with a gun, there was the same team as Lincoln and Amelia Sachs.
Deaver is very talented but I did not think The Never Game rose to the level of the Lincoln Rhyme’s books. It does have an interesting ending as an unresolved subplot was to be directly addressed in the next book in the series. I am not sure if I will read the next Colter Shaw mystery.
Deaver, Jeffery – (2000) - The Empty Chair; (2002) - The Stone Monkey; (2002) - Mistress of Justice; (2003) - The Vanished Man; (2005) - Garden of Beasts; (2005) - The Twelfth Card; (2006) - Cold Moon; (Tied for 3rd Best fiction of 2006); (2008) - The Broken Window; (2010) - The Burning Wire; (2013) - The Kill Room; (2014) - The Skin Collector; (2017) - The Steel Kiss; (2019) - The Burial Hour; Hardcover if Lincoln Rhymes story