ONE ROOM. FIVE SUSPECTS.
THREE HOURS TO FIND A KILLER.
A waitress. A cleaner. An actress. A lawyer. A student. Everyone is a suspect.
In a locked room – with no escape, and no idea how they got there.
In the bathtub, the body of a man they all knew. Someone murdered him. Someone in this room.
They have three hours to find out. Or they all die.
THE RULES ARE SIMPLE. THE GAME IS NOT
Let me start this review off by saying this book took me by surprise from the moment I opened it to the final paragraph. The book opens with a young pupil finding his teacher hanging from the ceiling in his classroom. This begins a chain of events that will have you up until the early hours, as you race ahead to find out how a suicide of a teacher links into the main plot. It is one of the most intriguing subplots I had the pleasure of reading in recent crime fiction, and didn’t see the conclusion coming at all simply brilliant.
A large proportion of the book is spent in one room told through the eyes of Morgan Sheppard. A big time TV show host who is famous for solving crimes. However when he wakes up tied to a bed with five strangers staring at him and a dead body in the bathtub his detective skills are truly put to the test. Unfortunately for the others in the room, Morgan is suffering a deep trauma and isn’t dealing with it in the best way using drink and drugs to help him get by. As the plot develops this begins to have a greater impact upon him making you wonder will he solve it in time or will they all perish.
One of my main worries when reading the book was how will Chris be able to maintain the tension when such a massive amount of the action occurs in one room. I should never of worried because at no point does Chris lose tension. In fact he was able to increase it to such a level that I felt I was in the room with them. Speaking the dialogue becoming the detective.
The main reason why I felt this was because of how every character is described to the reader. Making us either love them, hate them, or be not quite sure about them. I found that Chris’s way in presenting these details to us was unique, and allowed me to become more engaged with an assembled cast of characters then I have in a longtime within modern crime fiction. Chris has made sure all the characters have well developed backstories, which keeps you intrigued throughout taking you through multiple emotions from hate, anger, love, and sadness. A character which stuck with me to the end was Headphones. A shy claustrophobic girl who hardly speaks but when she does you listen because you find yourself yearning to discover what her role is within this complex plot. I fell in love with her. I am sure you will to.
Something I wasn’t expecting were the chapters told from the viewpoint of the antagonist. These chapters were some of my favourites as it allows the reader to tear back layers of their personality, and discover what has driven the antagonist to commit this crime. I hope Chris uses this kind of viewpoint again in his future works, as it is a rarity in crime and something I greatly enjoyed.
Highly recommended 5 stars. An outstanding debut. I can’t wait to see what Chris produces next.