Book Review: “A Game For All The Family” by Sophie Hannah

A_gameThe best way I can think to describe this book is that it’s a twisted mind-bending psychological thriller that logically make sense in a very illogical way. I know, lot of vague twisty words to use in a book review but this is exactly how I felt after reading it. Masterfully written, couldn’t have come up with a fresher take on a plot for a mystery novel, ultimately it is the best book I have read in a year. If you refuse to let your brain accept or process the truth you may either be a crazy person or just a brilliantly sick pathological liar. Which one is Anne Donbavand? This, my friends is the thrilling quagmire Sophie Hannah puts us in as her heroine Justine Merrison races desperately against time to figure out, in a deadly game of I won’t say cat and mouse ‘cause that’s too clichéd but something of the kind . As Justine, Ellen (her precocious teenage daughter), Alex (the adorable wisecrack of a husband) and Olwen (an unlikely but priceless character as a Bedlington dog breeder) try to put the puzzle pieces together, we are taken on a flashback to visit the spooky history of the Ingrey family that lived in Speedwell House (interestingly as a story written by Ellen for her 9th grade essay assignment). The same house that Justine and her family has unwittingly moved into to set the whole drama in motion. Creepy phone calls that end with threats to leave or else…., a fresh hole dug in the backyard just the right proportions to fit Justine, and the badge suspiciously hung on their dog Figgy that has the address of their old home in London, all add to create the tense eerie atmosphere, a fan of thrillers so very much craves. What is real and what is an elaborately crafted screenplay created by Anne Donbavand is for us and Justine to figure out. All the while with the question of what happened to Perrine Ingrey (from Ellen’s story within the story) hanging over our heads.  I’ll leave you with my favorite line– “A false secret is the worst kind of lie. Swear you won’t tell anyone this thing I am telling you that isn’t true – or else you’ll soon find out I’m manipulating you. Swear you’ll keep it to yourself and never check the facts with anyone else, especially not anyone more honest than me.” So if it is a lie disguised as the truth that Anne Donbavand is telling George, her son and all of us. What happens then if you start playing the same game? As Justine intends to do. “How does a liar who’s also a control freak react when someone else, a stranger, opens up her lie and climbs right in to pretend it’s the truth? Suddenly she’s got an uninvited co-conspirator – what would she do then?” This is THE must must read book of the year! 2 thumbs way up!

(Image credit: