The Murder Game by Beverly Barton
Series: Griffin Powell #8
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Publication Date: February 1st 2008
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The game is simple--he is the Hunter. They are the Prey. He gives them a chance to escape. To run. To hide. To outsmart him. But eventually, he catches them. And that's when the game gets really terrifying. . .
Private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter know a lot about serial killers--they took one down together. But this new killer is as sadistic as they've ever seen. He likes his little games, and he especially likes forcing Nic and Griff to play along. Every unsolvable clue, every posed victim, every taunting phone call--it's all part of his twisted, elaborate plan. And then the Hunter calls, wanting to know if they're really ready to play. . .
But Winner Still Kills All. . .
There's a new game now, and it's much more deadly than the first. A brutal psychopath needs a worthy adversary. He won't stop until he can hunt the most precious prey of all--Nicole. And with his partner in a killer's sights, Griff is playing for the biggest stakes of his life.
I really wish I could say aloha from Hawaii again, but alas I’m back in cold-ass Boise. Why did I wear shorts back on the plane again? A fifty degree temperature difference is fairly noticeable.
Anyway, I read this book before I left and I completely forgot to review it. Strange that I would forget, no?
I’ve always liked reading Beverly Barton, eye-rolling at times though she may be. Her heroines always tend to be helpless debutantes from various southern states. They say “Mercy!” a lot and are usually sweet-tempered virgins who make stupid ass decisions when they know their lives are in danger. They get smart after they almost get killed. It tends to get rather annoying. That’s why Nic was a refreshing heroine. I can’t think of any other Barton heroines that are like Nic.
Griffin and Nic are the only people that believe that the Beauty Queen Killer was actually two people rather than one. Unable to convince anyone at the FBI, the case was subsequently closed. Only Griff and Nic shared the belief that they hadn’t heard the last of the sadistic killer. When they both get a phone call, their worst fears come to life. There are at least two women dead and another one has gone missing. The killer has given both Nic and Griff clues that could eventually lead them to his prey, if only they can decipher the clues before he strikes.
The relationship between Griff and Nic was interesting. I don’t know any southern men, but Griff is what I’d imagine a southern man to be. He enjoys taking care of women. He really has no use for feminists. Nic has always felt she had to prove that she’s as able as any man. After growing up with a father determined to mold her into the perfect girly-girl, Nic rebelled and has been proving herself ever since. Griff doesn’t understand Nic’s need to prove herself and their personalities obviously clash. Nic believes that Griff is a womanizing bastard and Griff believes that Nic is a man in a woman’s body. Their personal feelings for each other aside, the two agree to work together to bring down the man who is now calling himself “The Hunter”.
Onto the villain. He was one evil S.O.B. The problem was that I couldn’t really take a sociopathic killer seriously when his name was “Pudge”. Yes, Pudge. That was the eye-rolling moment for me in the book. I mean, really. Pudge?
Barton does a great job of of making the victims seem real(see The Dying Game). Every time Pudge would choose his victim, we’d get a small glimpse into her life. So whenever Pudge would call Nic and Griff with a clue, I wanted them to figure it out even more. Before Pudge got to them and tortured them in a way that’s almost unimaginable.
Overall I liked this book. There was one thing that really made me like it and one thing that I really didn’t like.
First what I didn’t like…the character of Griff has been built up over several books. He was always sort of an enigma. There were 10 years where he just disappeared. Once on his way to being a professional football player, he just disappeared one day. When he resurfaced 10 years later, he was a rich man. He also had secrets. We never learn the secret of those 10 missing years until this book. It was what the secret was that I didn’t like. Maybe if I knew that this was his secret all along, it would be different. However, I feel like his big secret was somewhat of a cop-out, chosen specifically because of the kind of killer that Pudge turned out to be. I can’t reveal anything else because I don’t to spoil it for those that will actually read it.
Obviously the reader knows that Nic will eventually be taken by the killer. Usually this would happen at the end of the book. What I thought made the book good was that Nic was taken in the middle of the book. That made it really interesting. It was right at the time that Nic and Griff realized that their beliefs about each other were wrong and they started getting close. That made her being taken even more powerful.
Anyone that wants to read a good romantic suspense, give this one a try.
3.75 out of 5