The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul

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I received the Perfect Game from the author, Stephen Paul, to read and review, and I jumped at the opportunity as it is a supernatural thriller (one of my favorite genre). The book is a standalone novel, not part of a series, so I knew that the story would be fully resolved by its last page.

It all started guiltily enough: Kyle Vane, a middle aged professor was about to commit the worst sin a teacher can commit: sleep with one of his students. However his misguided plan didn’t come to fruition as Allie Shelton, his pretty young student who would have become his career downfall, suddenly collapsed in a back alley just as he was turning the corner to eagerly meet her. He only got a glimpse of a shadow disappearing out of sight, however Kyle’s problem was more immediate than wonder about someone running away: what to do about Allie and still save his skin? Afterall her accident might have just saved his already shaken career.

As luck would have it, there were no signs of struggle and all evidence pointed to the fact that she suffered a brain aneurysm. Quite young to have such a strange health problem, but it seemed natural enough, all doctors agreed with it.

Kyle had enough problems of his own. He was being sued by the family of a client who committed suicide, he was divorced and his relationship to Bree, his daughter, was the only highlight of his life, and even this seemed a bit strained at the moment. And now this. What was he even thinking trying to bury himself even deeper in the mud by acting like a horny teen?

All these were going through his mind when he got contacted by Liam, Allie’s uncle who found some older text messages between him and Allie (luckily he did delete the latest incriminatory ones that would give away his to-be affair), and decided that Kyle could help him solve the riddle of the murder attempt on his niece’s life. No matter how much doctors would insist it was a brain aneurysm, Liam was sure that someone tried to murder Allie. And he chose Kyle Vance to help him solve the case.

With this started a strange chase after an elusive killer who left several young people dead and no trace of any crime at the scene. Only Liam, the weird uncle, was able to connect all these deaths and make it all plausible, even though outwardly there was nothing to connect them – except that they were all too young for this disease to hit them, and each “accident” matched with a particular event happening the very next day.

The story was fast paced and intriguing enough to keep me reading without many breaks. Indeed there was a supernatural aspect to it, however it was not so far-fetched that one couldn’t actually imagine something like this existed. Afterall – without giving away any clues – its opposite exists right now in various esoteric traditions, not to mention alternative healing branches. So if you don’t like supernatural thrillers, don’t worry, it wasn’t that much of it in the book. But if you do, there was enough to make you like the novel even more.

I was given clues all the time, and whenever I thought I figured it out – I got hit by something new again, leaving me wondering what was going on – except for one thing – the method of killing, of which I was pretty sure right from the start.

The main characters were all flawed, yet they all had a good heart, wanting to do the right thing. Heck I even had a sort of vague sympathy with the killer – at least I understood their motive.

There were no super heros here, only regular folks caught up in life’s various situations, trying to deal with it as best as they could. They were as real as you can find in real life stories and you could relate to many things they did – or didn’t do throughout.

The writing was top notch and nowhere did I have the feeling that The Perfect Game is the author’s debut novel. I see here a great craftsman with a bright future ahead. An author we should put on our watch list for more greatness to come.

Btw, only now that I finished reading the book I figured out what the title refers to…doh…

To read more about The Perfect Game or get the book on Kindle, head over to Amazon.

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