Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: 'A Game for All the Family' by Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah's "A Game for All the Family" is a complex novel of psychological suspense with a large dose of caustic humor. Forty-three year old Justine Merrison, her husband, Alex Colley, and their adolescent daughter, Ellen, move from London to a beautiful home just outside Kingswear in Devon. Justine has given up her stressful career in television production and plans to relax and do nothing for the foreseeable future. She will sip tea, sit in her garden, take walks, enjoy Alex and Ellen's company, and avoid communicating with her former friends either by telephone or social media.

Much to Justine's chagrin, her daughter turns secretive and is busy writing a detailed and supposedly fictional story about a deeply troubled family. In addition, Justine starts receiving threatening phone calls from an unidentified woman. Finally, Ellen is furious about her close friend's unfair treatment by the administrators of Beaconwood, her new school. Instead of enjoying a lovely life of leisure, Justine has a new to-do list: She needs to pry Ellen's secrets from her; learn the name of the anonymous tormentor who warns her to vacate her lovely residence; and find out why, when she questions them, the faculty members of Beaconwood blatantly lie to her. Justine is plunged into a complex mystery with Gothic elements. We follow along, hoping that a psychopathic stalker does not harm Justine and her loved ones.

Aficionados of crossword puzzles and other brainteasers may find Hannah's tale challenging and entertaining, since the plot requires the reader to keep track of plots within plots and stories within stories. There are obscure motives, numerous twists and turns, and a murder mystery to be solved. Justine is a snarky, blunt, and witty heroine who is unafraid to challenge authority figures and boldly takes matters into her own hands. "A Game for All the Family" requires patience and a huge suspension of disbelief. If you pick up this book, pretend you are have left Earth and are preparing to visit a distant galaxy. This is an unconventional work of fiction that will delight Hannah's fans and annoy those who find her too quirky for their taste.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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