Marion Anderson lives the perfect life.She has a beautiful home, a handsome and loving husband, and an intelligent and caring son. But as easily as perfect lives are built, they can also be demolished. When tragedy strikes at the heart of her family, Marion finds herself in the middle of a nightmare, with no sign of waking-up.
The life she treasured is disintegrating before her very eyes, but it’s just the beginning of something much worse and altogether more deadly…

Having to avoid spoilers with this review of The Cruellest Game is a tricky prospect indeed as, from the outset and in a similar pacing to S. J. Watson’s psychological thriller Before I Go To Sleep, this is a crime tale filled with unexpected reveals as Marion Anderson, a seemingly happily married wife and mother’s life goes into tailspin from the devastating emotional events at opening of this book. With Bonner’s vast experience of writing tautly plotted psychological thrillers, this is a gripping read with an uncanny balance of overly emotional and more dispassionate threads to the narrative, that wrong- foot the reader by turns in Bonner’s depiction of this family in crisis and in particular her main female protagonist’s reactions and actions as each layer of deception is unfurled. From the opening to this review, I can offer you little more in the way of plot as there are some nasty surprises along the way for Marion, and it’s interesting to see the way that she hardens and draws on an emotional strength, that even she seems to believe she doesn’t have, to cope with her domestic life spinning off its axis and changing her world…

Bonner’s writing is controlled and assured throughout, and this would definitely be a good book group pick with the twists and turns in the plot some obvious, some not,  and the steadfast characterisation of Marion and those around her. A good read.

Hilary Bonner (born 1949) is an English crime writer. She grew up in the town of Bideford on the North Devon coast. She was previously the showbusiness editor of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mirror.  She is also a past chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, and has written ten crime novels and five non fiction books. Author website: http://www.hilarybonner.com/

(With thanks to Macmillan for the ARC)

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