Mystery, Thriller

Games People play , So It Began by Owen Mullen

Sometimes when I am trigger happy, I end up accumulating too many of an author’s books without having confirmed my affinity to the writing!
This is exactly what happened with this author. I requested and was granted access to four books from three different series. I thought I would start with the one in which I had two books. This was my first mistake. This is not a sad tale of woe; bear with me. I managed to read one of them and did not enjoy it, and the second was only halfway done when I decided to stop. The author did not do well with a female protagonist. At least, not to my liking. I felt the story remained at the surface without the depth that the trauma experienced by the characters deserved. I did not want to move on to the other two, something I luckily did not act upon.

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In ‘So it Began’, an odd choice of location is chosen for the narrative’s focus. It is the strange world of pageants for children! This provides a very intriguing set of people and possibilities for things to go wrong. We can see the voice of the culprit play out (or do we?) and know how bad things are going to get before everything wraps up. There is a nail-biting pace with regards to the plot. To complicate matters, the lead protagonist – Vincent Delaney, has two other issues to focus on. This causes more hair-raising scenes for him, which may not have anything to do with the case at hand.
I cannot say much about the plot line because the reveal occurs in bits and pieces until the very end.
I would have liked this even more if the parts with Delaney’s past were not there. I got the impression of his grief from the time without even having to see it play out on a scene-by-scene basis. It did not feel necessary enough to go into the details provided. This is probably the only reason I rated it the way I did. It would not matter as much to a hardened reader of this genre, and I would recommend it to those people.

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In ‘Games People Play’, the lead protagonist is a man known for finding missing people. The thing that haunts him is something left hanging for future books in the series. There are a lot of pieces in this narrative. For all of it to take simultaneous seriousness should have felt like chaos, but it did not. The load which Charlie Cameron has to deal with throughout the events of the book is heavy, and the reader gets to feel a share of the worry and frustration he goes through. The individual cases do not intersect in any way.
There is a dark, forbidding air throughout and a lot of footwork in trying to identify the resolution for things that no one is really paying Charlie to do. No amount of guessing would have shown the reveal to me before he did, at least for the main central plot!
Nothing about the storyline is soft, but there are many tongue-in-cheek comments, and the verbal sparring between most of the characters was highly entertaining in their own right. I will be following up with this series in the future. I already know where I might get the next.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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