Reviewed by Dianne Woodman
Game Piece is a gripping and heart-pounding thriller, which keeps readers glued to the pages right through to a spine-chilling conclusion. Short chapters give a fast-moving rhythm to the story line and add more excitement to this crime thriller without it feeling choppy or fragmented.
Barry Marshall, a police detective in Temple, Texas, is a self-described workaholic. When Marshall checks out an anonymous lead involving one of his open cases, he discovers a gruesome murder scene. This is only the beginning of a string of murders committed by a killer who appears to have a personal vendetta against Marshall for some inscrutable reason. The two men engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. As the game progresses, the stakes escalate for Barry with an unanticipated effect on his career and family. Can Barry end the perpetrator’s reign of terror before his convoluted scheme succeeds?
Trepidation and conflict have been ramped up by Alan Brenham’s excellent handling of not only the multiple points of view but also the transitions between point of view characters. The majority of the story is told from Barry’s viewpoint. However, the third-person point of view provides an added dimension to the story allowing readers to understand the thoughts and motivations of other characters who play an important role.
Brenham has done a superb job of creating realistic and believable characters with their own distinct voices. Barry is a dogged investigator with a passion for justice. At the same time, he struggles to hold his family together as his wife is unhappy and pressuring him to make a career change. The killer is sadistic and manipulative, and readers gain fascinating insight into the twisted mind of a serial killer and the motives behind his heinous behavior. An adolescent bystander’s naïve actions unwittingly place him in danger.
Brenham’s expertise as a former law enforcement officer, criminal prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney adds credibility to the reliably accurate portrayal of the criminal justice system in this sophisticated edge-of-your-seat novel. Brenham wonderfully illustrates how individuals, who put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect the public from dangerous criminals, struggle with balancing their work loyalty and family life.