Playing With Death: A Gripping Serial Killer Thriller (Introducing FBI Agent Rose Blake) Hardcover – 13 Jul 2017
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This fast, furious, twisty thriller kept me on the edge of my seat (Chris Ryan)
What starts as a gripping killer thriller morphs into a serious and frankly scary examination of the possible threats the development of AI poses for humanity (Irish Independent)
If Stephen King had collaborated with Michael Crichton on a thriller, it might have been as good as this. It's a grab-you-by-the-throat page-ripper' (Peterborough Evening Telegraph)
Praise for Simon Scarrow's novels:
'Scarrow's [novels] rank with the best'
Intrigue, treachery and violence... intense action, beguiling characters and authentic detail (Publishers Weekly)
Top stuff (Daily Telegraph)
A fast-moving and exceptionally well-paced historical thriller (BBC History Magazine)
An amazing roller-coaster of a ride... Fantastic... A cracking historical thriller (Manda Scott)
Gripping... [Scarrow's] sense of plot and pace is strong (The Times)
Pacy...and thrilling (The Book Bag)
Gripping... Ferocious and compelling (Daily Express)
This lively, absorbing novel will not disappoint (The Sunday Times)
Compelling and exciting (Historical Novels Review)
'Fast, furious, twisty thriller... kept me on the edge of my seat' Chris Ryan
'If Stephen King had collaborated with Michael Crichton on a thriller, it might have been as good as this' Peterborough Evening TelegraphSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Playing With Death starts out as a time-honoured, cat and mouse style thriller, featuring a police special agent and the prolific serial killer who escaped her trap and now feels it’s personal.
Even in the early stages of the novel though, there is a strong sub-plot exploring our 21st century obsession with all things high-tech.
On the whole, I found the book adequately written, but never particularly inspiring or inventive. All descriptions seemed quite pedestrian and would have benefited from the occasional imaginative simile. Having recently taken a course on ethical hacking/pen testing, I felt the whole cyber-crime theme was reasonably convincingly portrayed here, although some of the dialogue felt a bit false. I spotted at least one technical error – with images on a touch-screen, pinching your fingers together, will zoom out rather than in, and I felt there was a major inconsistency/plot-hole with Rose seemingly forgetting that her husband has gone off to play with his “suit” following the hack attack on their house. For such a clever detective, she seemed unfeasibly slow to realise the danger he was in!
Towards the latter stages of the book, the technology-run-wild sub-plot comes very much to the fore and the author takes us almost into Terminator or Matrix-style sci-fi. Quite a strong feminist theme emerges too. I must admit that I found this less convincing than the more conventional action that preceded it. The ending did feel reasonably satisfying, but included one implausible coincidence and left a couple of threads still untied.
So, to summarise, Playing With Death was certainly readable, but I never found it that exciting or inspiring and honestly cannot award anything better than three stars. It will probably appeal to you more if you feel strongly about over-use of such technology as the Internet (and “Dark Web” of course), smart phones, social media, AI, violent video games and any inferred misogyny.
I approach every Scarrow book with caution, Not because of the quality but because I’ve been fortunate enough to know both brothers for quite a few years and have really enjoyed their books. Simon’s books were among my introductory books into Historical Fiction and as such they have to have a special place in my reading and has helped define the reader i am now. So every new book has the potential as a voracious reader of the genre to find a fault, to pick holes and its never something i feel totally comfortable with. Fortunately Simon rarely offers me the opportunity.
So when something new comes along, Simon Scarrow doing Crime Fiction, i have to think, Hmmmm? ok! lets give it a go. Also a collaboration, and something adapted from a TV series idea…. this could have car crash all over it, and how do i review that?
Starting the book i have to say i was concerned, the writing didn’t have the feel of Simon’s usual work, the writing felt a little clunky and simplistic. But i think as much as anything that was the building of the concept, how to explain it to the reader, and so it came over as talking to the reader, and me projecting my concern onto the concept a little, also reading in bite sized morsels where this book needs to be read in large chunks to really absorb the concept.
In Playing with Death, Simon and Lee tackle some really interesting concepts around modern society, social media and gaming. Simon surprises and uses a female as his central figure (not something you would expect from the writer of Macro and Cato, but integral to this plot) and it works very well, if a little male in thinking occasionally, which can fit with the male orientated profession. But the concept of the books criminal and the “Skin” soon takes flight in the book, mixed with the backdrop of the chase for a deadly serial killer with a personal dislike for the lead FBI agent Rose Blake and the misdirection for the crimes happening. The chase gets more and more twisted, the concept of the tech and mix of social media more and more real and uncomfortable building to a thrilling conclusion. Wrapped around this is the family life of Agent Rose Blake, a family that gets drawn into the mix as inextricably as we all do to the world of the internet, caught up in the social media world and all its pit falls.
Simon and Lee shine an uncomfortable family light on our personal dependence on Social media and gadgets, that urge, desire to pull out your smart phone to check facebook, to check your email. The drug that is the internet has changed the world and we need to remember to turn it off, to disconnect and be part of a more realistic world, because the fake news, fake world and impossible world of photo shopped celebs and everything of its ilk on the internet all impact and shape our children and ourselves. Its that message that makes this book stand out, makes it a book that i really recommend and helps make this a good crime thriller.
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This is a crime thriller based upon a quite interesting premise around computer games, the dark web and the potential...Read more
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