I am a huge fan of Louise Phillips and so I was delighted to be given a review copy of The Game Changer by her publishers, Hachette Ireland. This is the fourth in the series featuring criminal psychologist Kate Pearson.Kate Pearson really is the staring character of this novel, despite having decided to take a break from working with the police after her last case. Kate is now spending more time with her son Charlie and enjoying a domestic partnership, without the complications of work, with DI O’Connor, and as the book opens in Dublin we get the feeling that life is on the up for Kate.
Of course this isn’t going to last, and following an anonymous note Kate begins digging into her own past, to a time when she was abducted, a time that she is simply unable to recall. Meanwhile DI O’Connor working to confirm whether the recent death of a retired headmaster is a suicide, he is contacted by Detective Lee Fisher in New York about a gruesome murder there – it appears that there is a link with the dead man. Lee Fisher is an excellent addition to the characters we have come to know and love from the previous books, I’m hoping we are going to meet him again in the future.
I am fascinated by the way memory works so the element of the book that concentrates on the blanks in Kate’s past were always going to be a winner as far as I am concerned, and Louise Phillips deals with this subject in a realistic way; there is no magic key that suddenly brings the past back to life, but that’s not to say that the lack of memory means that the pieces of the puzzle can’t be put together again. To do this Kate needs to start retracing her childhood steps, to talk to her former neighbours and to start writing down what she is certain are facts. These facts lead Kate in many directions all while she is becoming increasingly paranoid that she is being watched. Is her mind playing more tricks on her?
There is such a lot packed into this book including the device where the reader is treated to words from the killer, a risky step for an author to take although I’m pleased to confirm that their identity remains a mystery. Our killer treats us to their chilling ‘20 Steps to Self-enlightenment Programme’ which even the most sheltered of readers will be able to identify with the behaviour of leaders of cults. We soon meet some of the ‘Game Changers’ recruits, chilling not only because of the experiences that have made the 20 steps appealing, but because we know that this decision isn’t likely to end well. To back up how realistic the manipulation of a group can be, we are treated to the tragedies caused by this type of leadership, with references to both the murders committed by Charles Manson and the Jonestown massacre.
So we have cross jurisdictional murder, missing memories and a cult all interweaved to create an exceptional in-depth psychological thriller and not only that but it is well-written and features a couple of likeable investigators. If that wasn’t enough it is published today, 3 September 2015 so why don’t you go and get yourself a copy?
If you haven’t already read them I highly recommend the previous books featuring Kate Pearson: