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The Game by Derek Armstrong
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THE GAME (Police Proc-Alban Bane-New England-Cont) – G
Armstrong, Derek, 1st in Alban Bane series
Künati, 2007, US Hardcover, ISBN: 9781601640017

First Sentence: The crazies were at the gate

Ex-FBI, now Vermont Detective Albert Bane’s wife was murdered and her killer never caught. Bane has traveled to San Quintin in California to witness the execution of child serial killer Tyler Hayden. Just before he dies, he states he knows who killed Bane’s wife.

Back in Vermont, a reality television show “Haunted Survivor” is taking place in the now state-owned Mason Place, a 134-room mansion once owned by Mordechai Mason, who murdered his wife and eleven guests. A murder has occurred at the mansion and, although not a child, the victim was killed in the manner used by Hayden.

I loved Armstrong’s Troubadour book, but this; not as much. His cynicism about reality television going to greater extremes to appeal to the lowest common denominator audience is on the mark. The character of Bane is interesting, along with his partner, Arm.

While the dialogue is good, Bane’s one liners don’t have the humor I think they are meant to have. They are certainly no comparison to Robert Parker’s Spenser. The sense of place is excellent. Not only does it a strong vision of the local and season, but a sense of old-time attitudes; although, not as strident as the separatists.

This is a gruesome tale with plenty of suspense and a good mystery within a mystery within a mystery, of which two are solved and the third is left to entice us on to another book. That last ‘trick’ is one which can make the book a wallbanger for me. While I wasn’t happy with the author for employing that tactic, it’s done in such a way that you’re not required to read the next book. However, I do like the author’s writing well enough that I shall read the next book.

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