Games People Play by Owen Mullen

A review of the detective crime thriller Games People Play by Owen Mullen.

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This book centres on the abduction of a thirteen-month-old child from a beach in Ayr, Scotland. Unusually, the father of the missing child turns to a private investigator, Charlie Cameron, for help. Reluctantly, after the father insists he knows who has his daughter, Charlie agrees. Eventually, as more bodies of young children are discovered, Charlie starts to believe there is a serial killer at work. Removed from the investigation, Charlie takes on the case of a missing teenager, who disappeared at the same time as her teacher. Aided and abetted by Patrick Logue, a shady character who worked for Charlie when necessary, and Andrew Geddes, a detective sergeant with Police Scotland CID, the story follows Charlie’s investigation into both cases.

Games People Play is well-written and easy to read, although a bit tedious at times. This is not a high-octane thrill-a-minute book, but more like a gentle stroll in the park.

Charlie Cameron is an average character, amiable and refreshingly, but quite uncomplicated. This does leave him lacking in depth and I found him fairly predictable. He does have a secret which unfolds slowly throughout the book as an untold story that is revealed.

Patrick Logue is at first quite a desperate character but becomes more likeable as the story moves on. A heavy drinker, with no actual employment, his way with people comes across effectively.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Geddes is the typical life-hardened, grumpy disillusioned police officer. To make matters worse, he is involved in a bitter divorce-battle with his soon to be ex-wife.

I think the problem with this book is that it never really goes anywhere. The killer is arrested quite early on so you know he/she didn’t kidnap the baby. The actual reason for the kidnapping is not introduced until the final chapters, giving no chance to guess who it is. Even the exciting parts of the story fizzled out.

All-in-all if you need to fill some sort of quota of books to read, add this one to the list. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it but I also wouldn’t tell you not to read it.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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