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The Zero Game

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  9,922 Ratings  ·  359 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaires and The First Counsel returns to Wash-ington, D.C., with the story of an insider's game that turns deadly. Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler are best friends who have plum jobs as senior staffers to well-respected congressmen. But after a decade in Washington, idealism has faded to disillusionment, and they're bored ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 688 pages
Published January 20th 2004 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2004)
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Apr 13, 2013 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good political thriller with a semi-realistic tone. Meltzer keeps the pace going although at times it's at the sacrifice of the writing. How many times can a character "smash" through the door way? Really? A nicely done cave sequence mid-story that adds the last needed reader momentum to get to the finale and tie up all the loose ends. Don't expect the book to stay with you after completed, nor to learn anything insightful about the inner workings of DC. Overall, exactly what the cover advertise ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love thrillers, don't miss this one.
My husband and I "buddy" read this one together. We were both into it right away.
A pretty much harmless, albiet illegal, game is being played by a few workers on Capitol Hill. It's pretty low stakes stuff, but one bet in particular becomes very high stakes. Although confident, Matthew starts to feel a little nervous about this one. So, he keeps his eye on things this time. But, someone doesn't like that too much.
Matthew's sleuthing sets off a chain re
Jan 14, 2015 JBradford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Zero Game for which this book is named is explained as a frivolous activity in which Congressional aids find themselves relieving the boredom of their lives. Contestants make book on whether certain small things will or will not get included in final congressional bills. Matthew has been invited by Harris to play the game, which they do … and then along comes a chance for a big killing, when the item up for discussion is the granting of sale government land containing an abandoned gold mine ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megan by: liked other books by author
Shelves: suspense
ok read...liked other Meltzer books better...

The New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaires and The First Counsel returns to Wash-ington, D.C., with the story of an insider's game that turns deadly. Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler are best friends who have plum jobs as senior staffers to well-respected congressmen. But after a decade in Washington, idealism has faded to disillusionment, and they're bored. Then one of them finds out about the clandestine Zero Game. It starts out as g
I don't know, I wanted this to be so much better than it was. Two staffers, bored with their jobs join a game being played in Washington. No one truly knows who's playing the game, just the person who sponsored you and the one you sponsor. Bets placed on mundane or small matters definitly keep you more interested in the day to day of your job in Washington. Especially the curiosity about who else is playing. Could that sentor being playing, is he too involved in the outcome of this vote? That st ...more
I have read a few of his books, but this is not one of his better ones. There was a lot of padding, particularly the middle part. It did gain momentum towards the end but I was glad to get it finished. It is still a reasonably good thriller based in and around the Washington political scene, but lacked an intricate plot of some of his earlier books.
Jan 20, 2016 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book had a strong start. Fast paced read. The kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat. At the more than half through mark, I found myself wanting to know more about the characters. Not much was revealed, though. I felt it could've ended sooner. I did really like and enjoy Harris and Viv's friendship. Solid 3 stars. Good read.
Jan 24, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Politics, murder, mystery, hush-hush, secrets in Washington D.C. Oh wait let me turn off CNN and write about the book. Or was I? Hmmm.
Costea Constantin
Matthew Mercer și Harris Sandler joacă un joc misterios, despre care nu știe aproape nimeni - nici prietenii, nici colegii și cu siguranță nici șefii lor, care sunt unii dintre cei mai puternici senatori și congresmeni de pe Capitol Hill. Este un joc care are toate ingredientele: riscuri, recompense, mister și fiorul de a ști că, doar prin simplul fapt că ai fost invitat să-l joci, ți s-a confirmat statutul de adevărat mediator al puterii din Was
Aug 11, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The problem that I have with most political thrillers is, paradoxically, the politics. Most people are biased in one direction or another, and I do not appreciate reading books by people with an agenda. It doesn't matter if I share said agenda; fiction is not the place to sell it. Thankfully, the Zero Game doesn't fall into this trap. Instead, it's a novel about the corruption inherent in the system. It's also a fairly exciting and slightly terrifying look into the inner system of Washington DC. ...more
Πάνος Τουρλής
Προσοχή, μπορεί να περιέχει SPOILERS!
Είμαι λίίίγο διχασμένος. Ακροβατεί ανάμεσα στην επιστημονική φαντασία και την αμερικανιά. Ο Χάρις και ο Μάθιου, υπάληλλοι με σημαντική θέση στην Επιτροπή Διανομής Κονδυλίων του Καπιτωλίου, μυούνται σε ένα παιχνίδι στοιχημάτων με κωδικοποιημένα μηνύματα. Αθώα στοιχήματα, χαζά σχεδόν, που όμως μπορούν να στοιχίσουν ζωές. Στον Μάθιου κάτι δεν αρέσει και ακολουθεί έναν νεαρό που τελικά δεν είναι κλητήρας ούτε της Γερουσίας ούτε της Βουλής. Και δολοφονείται. Ο Χάρ
Jennifer L.
I usually can't put Meltzer's work down once I pick it up, and I felt that way about this one as I went through the last half, but the pacing and the structure of this one threw me off a bit. Structurally, it felt like some odd choices were made. Chapters focusing on the protagonists were in first person present, and the few chapters focused elsewhere were in third person past, and so jumping between chapters sometimes felt fairly jarring. The plot also lagged some, about a fourth of the way in. ...more
Thomas III
Aug 31, 2014 Thomas III rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read my first Brad Metzer book, “The Zero Game”. I like this type of political action genre and thought it was worth the read. The concept of having games played over legislative results is almost comical until you step back and realize how many people have a hand in the real game. It was an interesting look into the deeper and darker pieces of politics and how everyone wants a piece, especially lobbyists. What I liked about the book is that it wasn’t political. You didn’t have to be on one si ...more
Tom Tischler
Mar 09, 2015 Tom Tischler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler are two bored and disillusioned
Washington staffers and so they dream up a clandestine thing called
The Zero Game. It sounds like a lot of good old fun to them but when
someone close to them ends up dead they realize that this game is far
more sinister and soon they are running for their lives. When I first
started reading this book I thought it might make a three. Buy the
time you figure out what they are doing it moves out and never lets
up. If you do decide to re
Mar 07, 2014 Christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading Mr. Meltzer's books in order from the first book he wrote. I believe every review I've written has been largely positive but lamented the fact that the main character always made one hugely bonehead move that was not very plausible to me. Well...that is NOT the case with this book. This is definitely the best of the bunch so far. The story is interesting and there's a surprise at the beginning that I thought was nicely done.

So basically if you like a good mystery with a litl
Patricia Hamill
Jan 18, 2015 Patricia Hamill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of political thrillers
Recommended to Patricia by: my dad
The Zero Game is an action-packed, yet disturbing, political thriller. Matthew and Harris have been playing a game, one that seems harmless. Place your bids, sneak a bit of trivial legislation onto a bill, and collect your winnings. A victimless crime, until one of the players ends up dead. Soon one of the players finds himself playing a new game. One of life and death.

I must say I really liked this book. I found the pace quick and the story intriguing. Twists and surprises, chases and narrow e
Feb 20, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was more exciting and more alluring than your typical "political thriller"...while you get some sense about the politics, and how things happen around Capital Hill, this story is more about a mystery surrounding current scientific studies, and the adventure of a great chase. This book starts with a small idea (the Zero Game) and quickly explodes into the unraveling of a conspiracy. I can easily see inspirations for this book in the likes of John Grisham and Michael Crichton, there is ...more
Linda C.
Sep 01, 2010 Linda C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I came by The Zero Game several years ago at a writing conference I attended in Ft. Lauderdale. Brad Meltzer spoke. He was quite the funny and entertaining speaker as I recall. I took that as a good sign and a good excuse to buy an autographed copy of his book. Well, I'm learning.

The Zero Game is fair in my mind. It's full of mystery and intrigue set in Washington, DC amid the political world. Harris and Viv are very complex yet likeable characters. Yet I constantly found myself rereading in ord
Jul 04, 2010 Jerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some suspense, but uneven pace and preposterous chase scenes spoil indifference-breeding thriller.

This was our first Brad Meltzer, the author having been recommended by a friend. We're usually game for any kind of mystery or thriller, but this one fell short of expectations. The "Zero Game" in question turns out to be a silly betting scheme that consumes/wastes the first third of the novel. The incredulous exploits of protagonist Capital staffer Harris, with 17-year-old senate page Viv his somew
Jun 20, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Just started reading another book by Meltzer and remembered the reason I even picked it up. The Zero Game is a really thrilling read about a group who play a game with congressional bills. The bet is usually whether they can insert some nonsense into the a bill, a weird sentence or strange appropriation (pork) with no real meaning that they can sneak by. The game is run secretly in an extremely clandestine fashion until one of the aides is murdered-- it seems the game has more meaning than anyon ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brad Meltzer- The Zero Game (Coronet Books 2004) 3.75 Stars

Matthew and Harris are both senior staffers on the capital. They have both just started in on the secret Zero Game, where they place secret wagers on the capital. Now they have discovered that it is becoming deadly and may just cost them their lives. Now they must redeem themselves and get to the bottom of this while running for their lives.

It took me awhile to get into this one; it could have had a better introduction. It did slowly pic
Nicole R
Matthew and Harris are 10 year veterans of the Hill (which, trust me, is a LONG time!). Matthew is a staffer on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and Harris is the Chief of Staff for a Senator. They both are really good at their jobs, enjoy them well enough, but are looking for something to spice it up. Enter: The Zero Game. A highly secretive and exclusive group of people who place bets on trivial legislation and work to skew things in their favor. But, when Matthew and Harris deci ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wouldn't
Recommended to Jason by: No one
A fair read. I had heard Brad Meltzer speak on the radio and seen one of his shows. Based on that I wanted to read his books. I was going in hoping for something wonderful, but got something mediocre instead. I read through the whole book, the story kept me interested. I will probably read another one of his books again, just not anytime soon. The potential for a great story was there, but it never really sucked me in or engaged me to really think.

The good points:
His information on real places
Oct 23, 2012 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story: A young staffer at Capitol Hill takes part in a "game". The game is to trick senators and house members into doing something publicly, without knowing they've been tricked. The game presumably started innocently enough, with a senator saying something in a speech that was not supposed to be part of the speech. As this story opens, the challenge is to insert something into a bill that will become law. The little insertion is the approval of the sale of an old non-functioning mine in a ...more
Synopsis: When Matthew Mercer confides to his best friend, Harris Sandler, that he's thinking of leaving his cushy job as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill, Harris convinces him to stay by inviting him to play the Zero Game, an anonymous wagering game where you bet on the likelihood of some piece of legislation passing. It's a silly game, but the stakes are minimal, so Matthew joins in, enjoying the diversion and finding the anonymity intriguing. The bet in front of them now is a gimme, especiall ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was packaged with another eBook I purchased. It was an un-advertised, free companion book. I almost didn't read it, as I was not pleased with the book it came with, but I'm so glad I did, as I liked it much better than the book I bought!

It started out as a drama centered about the working staff of Congress, the people who approve the funds to get things done. The author’s wife is a Washington lawyer, and has supplied a lot of factual background. It is fascinating to learn about how Was
D Carr
Apr 16, 2016 D Carr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure about this book initially but it proved to be a page turner that keep me on my toes rooting for the (2) principle characters. Of course I'd like to believe that it is clearly a work of fiction but with politics having become more of a business (rather than a system intended to serve "the people") who knows?

If the true state of our system is half as "self centered/focused" as portrayed in this book, we are a nation already on our way to being damned... (4/15)
Aug 21, 2008 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sheila by: Shannon Lane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2016 Lise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Meltzer book I've read. I enjoyed it enough that I will look for others by him. There were parts that were so completely unexpected that it left me speechless. Other parts drug on with too much description, in my opinion. I believe Meltzer was trying to build the suspense, but he ended up losing my interest in parts. Overall, he made a subject that doesn't typically interest me (politics) interesting enough that I enjoyed reading about it.
Debra Chapoton
Jul 10, 2010 Debra Chapoton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The unelected underlings are the ones who really seem to run Washington in this very fast moving murder/suspense/mystery novel by Brad Meltzer. The "game" in THE ZERO GAME is a risky top secret gamble that is played by the real power brokers of D.C.: Senate staffers. The action is told in the first person present tense when the heroes are plotting, discovering, running and then switches to the third person past when the sinister evil forces do their deeds. This clever style kept me reading at br ...more
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Who loves Brad Meltzer's books? 5 20 Jan 20, 2015 04:41PM  
literary magazines 5 16 Nov 17, 2014 11:23AM  
  • The Chairman (Christian Gillette, #1)
  • Resurrection Day
  • The Berlin Conspiracy (Jack Teller, #1)
  • The Whole Truth (A. Shaw, #1)
  • Power Play
  • The President's Assassin (Sean Drummond #5)
  • The Apostle (Scot Harvath, #8)
  • The Inside Ring (Joe DeMarco, #1)
  • The Fourth Perimeter
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Critical Mass
  • A Plague of Secrets (Dismas Hardy, #13)
  • Above the Law
  • Quantico Rules (Puller Monk #1)
Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and seven other bestselling thrillers. In addition to his fiction, Brad is one of the only authors to ever have books on the bestseller list for nonfiction (History Decoded), advice (Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter), children's books (I Am Amelia Earhart and I Am Abraham Lincoln) and even g ...more
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