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Deadly Games    by Hilary Norman order for
Deadly Games
by Hilary Norman
Order:  USA  Can
Piatkus, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

After a short stint as a cop, Jake Woods went back to school and is now a criminal justice professor and the loving father of two daughters, Rianna and Ella (his wife died in a car crash). He is asked for help by close friends whose teen son has disappeared after receiving the peculiar gift of a popular (and violent) computer game that the young man already owned. In this game, Limbo, Steel and Dakota are 'the last surviving teenagers in New York City ... trapped in a terrifying underground hell.'

Steel and Dakota are attractive and athletic, as are all the young men and women who have been disappearing from happy homes. After Jake's housekeeper makes the Limbo connection, the FBI get on the case (though without much visible progress) and Jake gets in touch with Lydia, the lovely widowed mother of the latest victim, Robbie. The author does a good job of portraying the anguish of the parents of the missing teens, who are in a desperate limbo of their own.

At the same time, readers watch events from the peculiar points of view of the abductor and of his victims, forced to react to a virtual reality simulator under the nutcase's control. Jake and Lydia look into the company, Eryx, that developed Limbo and especially into its three founders, in whose presence Lydia feels a disturbing malevolence. Despite the horror of Lydia's situation, a mutual attraction develops between Robbie's mother and Jake. But then the situation becomes much more personal and frightening for the professor.

Though a little predictable, Deadly Games is a good read, incorporating an appealing romance with a thriller on an intriguing topic.
Note: This book is available in the UK and Canada, but not yet in the US.

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