The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol
Rebecca’s worried. Her long-time lover and friend, Ezra, has disappeared. They’ve been having problems with their relationship and Rebecca thinks that perhaps Ezra just went off to begin again. The cops think so too. But as the months roll on, Rebecca starts to have doubts. Ezra left everything behind, clothes, money, apartment. Plus, he didn’t let her know and he would have, she thinks.
But time passes and there’s no word. Rebecca discovers that Ezra was taking part in a strange fad popular in some quarters. It’s an underground movement known as The Stranger Game. The original aim was to pick a person at random and follow them to better understand their lives and, subsequently, your own. It’s kinda zen for stalkers. Unfortunately, the game has mutated and off-shoots soon develop, some of which are incredibly dangerous. It’s also very addictive with many participants apparently setting their regular lives to one side in order to play.
It’s how Rebecca meets Carey. He’s a player in more than one sense of the word. But Rebecca has become a player also. It’s fucked up and they both know it but a relationship begins on the shakiest of foundations, after Rebecca discovers that Carey was following her beyond the rules of the original game. Is Rebecca mental? Of course she is, but the premise of the book ignores this small detail.
Cue plots and ploys and stalking and talking about stalking and sex and obsession and quite a load of bullshit. This is not a great book. The original idea is not so original and the execution is poor. There are holes big enough in this story to force the egos of both Donald Trump and Boris Johnson through side by side. Those are some pretty fucking big holes.
Carey is not all he seems to be which isn’t so strange given what he at first seems to be. Rebecca is an architect and Rebel Voice has met few of those with little sense. Yet Rebecca seems clueless at times. Peter Gadol must have a very poor opinion of architects despite the fact that they have to train as long as a medical doctor for their trade. She runs from pillar to post, legal issue to legal issue, never stopping to consider that perhaps the best approach would be to contact a lawyer. The author really stretches the bounds of credibility to make this plot work and it doesn’t. He shouldn’t have bothered. No, really, he shouldn’t.
If Rebel Voice is to describe this book, it would be as a stocking-filler, and that’s being polite. It’s cannon-fodder. It’s Brussels sprouts. It’s elevator music. It’s grey wallpaper. It’s a church sermon about the Psalms. It’s beige personalities. It’s a dull headache not severe enough to take a tablet for. It’s a waiting room with no magazines. It’s navy corduroy trousers. It’s a cardboard sandwich. It’s John Major. It’s chemistry without explosions. It’s Burnley. It’s Dullsville. It’s a grey turd. It’s a grey cardigan. It’s a standard grey saloon car. It’s a grey brick. It’s grey. It’s grey. It’s grey.
Rebecca finds Ezra, or is it Ezra who finds Rebecca? Carey is Carey. The cops are the cops. Grey weirdos abound and the game continues unabated but really who cares. This could have been a contender for being labelled a decent book, but no, it isn’t and won’t be, as the overall plot lacks any real imagination and zest. It has no kick. Guess what colour it is…
Sult scale rating: 3.5 out of 10. The author is good enough with his prose but not with his plot. This premise might have worked with a little imagination and some creativity. But, ultimately, it’s about as engaging as haemorrhoids and a lot less interesting. Give it a miss.
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