The Never Game

by Jeffery Deaver

Part of the Colter Shaw Thriller Series

Crime and Mystery Thriller and Suspense Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel

LoveReading Expert Review of The Never Game

Full of intoxicating action, thoughtful and clever, this thriller is a fabulous reading experience.

A breathtaking, riveting, fabulous reading experience awaits in this absolute belter of a thriller. Colter Shaw starts to investigate the case of a missing student, it appears that the kidnapper is playing a game that is about to turn deadly. The prelude sounded a klaxon, the chapter heading and dramatic content ensured I was on full alert. Each short, wonderfully written chapter added layer upon intricate layer and increased the tension. Jeffery Deaver is a master storyteller, his stories are so incredibly easy to read yet wonderfully clever. This book is full of intoxicating action, I also found myself wondering and considering as my thoughts and feelings were thoroughly provoked. Colter Shaw is someone you would want on your side, a hunter with humility and empathy. I am sooo excited that this is the start to a new series, I simply can’t wait to find out more about Shaw! ‘The Never Game’ is a book you can escape into and fully immerse yourself in until you have to come up for air - absolutely wonderful!

Liz Robinson

The Never Game Synopsis

Escape or die trying...

No.1 international bestseller Jeffery Deaver returns with a stunning new thriller - the first in an exciting series featuring enigmatic investigator Colter Shaw.

A student kidnapped from the park. Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise, she will die. An investigator running out of time. Sophie's distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him. A killer playing a deadly game. Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted - left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest - and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn't following the rules; he's changing them. One murder at a time... 

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780008303761
Publication date: 19th March 2020
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 480 pages
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:
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The Never Game Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Shaw is an exceedingly well developed character and Deaver's precise attention to detail is totally remarkable and unlike any other author indeed.

The Never Game is the first in a brand new investigative series written by renowned thriller writer Jeffrey Deaver and featuring a fabulous new character 'Colter Shaw'. Shaw is an itinerant 'reward-seeker', someone who finds missing people in return for the reward money and makes a refreshing change to the run of the mill, private investigator/bounty hunter stories that normally relate in the hunt for missing persons. Shaw is an exceedingly well-developed character and Deaver's precise attention to detail is totally remarkable and unlike any other author indeed. The descriptions of the locations featuring in the story allow for perfect clarity of vision and the way the story is told in such immense detail, you immediately feel a part of the intriguing story and know exactly what is going on in each intelligently written chapter.
There's plenty of information on Shaw's background to keep you intrigued and I look forward to learning more about him in future books. He’s a trained survivalist (not ex-cop or military), quietly spoken, strong both mentally and physically, has personal standards, empathy and respects other people regardless of their stature. His trademark way of attempting to solve crimes and dangerous situations by assessing percentages relating to each circumstance is very clever and typical of a Deaver character.
Jeffrey Deaver really is one of the best thriller writers in town and I have personally been a fan of his intellectual crime stories for many, many years. I suspect Colter Shaw will be another iconic character like the author’s other very successful character - Lincoln Rhymes- and I look forward immensely to following this series further.

Miriam Smith

A fast paced story where computer games meet reality with tragic consequences.

Colter Shaw is a “Rewarder” (although he hates the term). The modern day equivalent of a bounty hunter, he searches online for rewards offered for finding missing persons – then he finds them, almost always successfully, and claims the reward. His rather eccentric childhood gave him a firm grounding in the tracking, psychology, self defence and tactical skills that make him perfect for the job.

His latest job, to find missing student Sophie Mulliner, leads him into the complex 21st century world of computer gaming, and the businesses that develop and sell the games, so when he successfully finds Sophie but another kidnap, then a third, using similar methods occurs, he offers to work pro bono in order to track down the person behind the kidnappings.

A lot happens in this book – a LOT. So much that it is often hard to visualise how little time has passed – I often felt that several days must have passed, so much action had occurred, when it had really only been a few hours. The suspect changes several times, with clues pointing in many directions, but I was still surprised when an arrest was eventually made.

A further thread about Shaw’s youth and the death of his father runs throughout the book, which is never resolved although by the end he has some clues. I’m sure there will be more about this in a future book and I am looking forward to finding out more.

Jane Willis

A truly thrilling story - a must read!!

This is a book that is sure to please a whole host of readers as it covers many genres and is one of the best books that I have read in a long time.

The Never Game by Jeffrey Denver is a truly riveting and must-read book which will keep the reader's attention and anticipation of the story from beginning to end with a "who? what? where?" in every chapter.

Sophie, an American teenager disappears and her father, despite calling in local law enforcement agencies for help, feels they are not doing something quickly enough. He calls upon the skills of Colter Shaw, a man brought up in the woods and forests by his parents and someone who possesses a keen tracking skill.

However, during his investigation, Colter discovers that a young man has also disappeared and he turns his attention to see if these two disappearances are linked.

The book is excellent, with twists and turns on every page and will keep the reader enthralled in each chapter as the reader discovers how Colter deals with the tasks ahead of him. This is definitely a must-read for fans of many genres, they won't be disappointed.

Catherine Bryce

Fabulous action-packed novel that will get your heart racing.

What a treat to read the first instalment of a new series and getting to know its charismatic main character, Colter Shaw, who makes his living as a reward-seeker, finding missing people for reward money.

In this novel, Colter is initially hired by the father of a kidnapped young woman to try and track her down, as the police are not taking her disappearance seriously. Colter’s investigation eventually leads him into the world of gaming and the reader is treated to numerous action-packed pages as events unfurl.

I had never read any of Jeffery Deaver’s novels before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, it’s certainly not surprising that his novels are enjoyed by so many people - I was not disappointed! What struck me most about his style is that he is a master at describing locations, characters and moods, so much so that I could really imagine this novel as a movie. Colter Shaw is a great, complex main character and it’s fascinating to find out more about his background. I’m looking forward to finding out how his story unravels in the next book in this series.

Alexandra Harper-Williams

Good, solid thriller that'll entertain you for a few evenings as you race through it. Jeffrey Deaver fans will enjoy it, and anyone looking for an introduction to his books will find themselves satisfied.

This is an entertaining thriller about a reward hunter, Colter Shaw, and his attempts to track down a kidnap victim. At least, that's how it starts out for Shaw - before too long he's embroiled in the sick and twisted attempts of a criminal attempting to recreate a popular game, The Whispering Man, for real. What follows is full of thrills and twisty turns as the criminal's true motives become clear.
Shaw is a good protagonist, ably supported by a couple of strong female leads (a gaming enthusiast and a detective), with plenty of potential criminal masterminds for us to guess at. The plot as a whole works fine, and the resolution is satisfying. The looks into Shaw's past are done well to flesh him out, though the side plot involving something to do with his father's death just feel tacked on to try and establish links through the (presumably planned) next instalments.
You know you'll be entertained with Jeffrey Deaver - it's a good, solid thriller that'll entertain you for a few evenings as you race through it.

Chris Bertenshaw

Enter the word of the Never Game and discover an exhilarating roller-coaster ride full of action, twists and turns. A place where your deepest fears become reality. Open this outstanding book and begin your journey if you dare.

The latest novel from the master of suspense author Jeffrey Deaver. This is the first instalment of a new series introducing investigator Colton Shaw whose mission is to solve missing person cases, hunt down the perpetrators and put those responsible behind bars. Not an ordinary way of life for Shaw, it’s a vocation. After all, survival is in his blood, just like his father before him. Stay alive, become the hunter and not the prey. When Sophie Mulliner disappears, Shaw faces the most challenging case yet. To find Sophie before the mysterious whispering man, highly dangerous and elusive kills her. As the clock ticks, Shaw must play the deadly Never Game. Will he win or lose?

Shocking revelations, twists and turns keep the reader engrossed throughout. Shaw is a strong character with whom the reader can identify, understand and connect with. Magnificently written, with a well thought out and dramatic plot. A must-read for fans of Jeffrey Deaver and also those yet to discover the master of storytelling at his finest.

Welcome to The Never Game. Are you ready to play? Turn the page and enter if you dare.

Julie Burrows

Ah... the “find the hostages before they perish” format - a standard plotline. Not with Jeffery Deaver! With a fascinating main character and video gaming background, he brings something unique to the genre.

This appears to be the first book of a new main character for Jeffery Deaver - Colter Shaw. He comes across as a “bounty hunter with a heart” in that he takes on reward jobs with the priority being the human and moral aspects of the job, rather than the reward money. He’ll even take payment in instalments for his poorer clients!

This book has the “find the hostages before they perish” format which has been done many times before. Yet with a fascinating main character and a background of the world of video gaming, Deaver brings something unique to the genre. The plot is full of twists and turns and several times it seemed the story was about to end - Only the number of pages left brought the joy of knowing there was more to come!

Colter Shaw seems to have some unresolved personal issues at the end of the book which I really hope means he intends to write more on this new character. I for one shall be looking out enthusiastically for the next Coulter Shaw book!

Gill Wilmott

Would recommend Deaver to everybody. A captivating read with many interesting layers which I cannot wait to discover over the series.

Absolutely fantastic. Deaver is a master of his art, captivating me from the very first chapter. Colter Shaw is an intriguing character with multiple layers to his story developing throughout the pages of The Never Game. I cannot wait for the next instalment of the series to find out more about Colter Shaw.

Jade Cutts

The Never Game is the first book in a new series, and follows Colter Shaw as he gets embroiled in a game he didn’t expect. A great thriller that shouldn’t be missed!

Colter Shaw finds people. He’s not a cop or a bounty hunter, but he earns money by looking for people who are missing and there is a reward to find them. He’s good at what he does.

Shaw had a different upbringing. Brought up on ‘the compound’ he was home schooled and alongside that was taught hunting and survivor training.

As soon as you start reading this you’re pulled into the action. Shaw is desperately trying to rescue a woman in a sinking boat. Then we go back to the beginning and you find out how he got there.

I found the story engrossing from the start. I wanted to know more about Shaw, I wanted to understand what was happening. Deaver is very good, he regularly drip feeds you information and answers, but leaves enough out to keep you wanting to read more.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m pleased that I got a chance to read the first in a new series before there are too many books to catch up with. I will definitely be reading the next book, there is so much about Shaw I want to know and a very important unanswered question from his childhood.

If you like crime and mystery then I strongly recommend that you read this book!

Rebecca Kirkby

Best book I have read for a year. A new look at how to solve a kidnapping.

This is an absolutely brilliant book about solving some kidnappings. I have always admired Jeffery Deaver's writing skills but I think this must be his best yet. He knows exactly how to keep a reader on the edge of the chair. This time he has added a new intricate video gaming dimension, which is completely integrated into the more traditional crime story. The video gaming dimension is intrinsic to the plot and spot on.

His new hero, Colter Shaw, is a "reward seeker". That is, he earns money by helping either the police or ordinary people looking for missing relatives. Brought up in a well-educated survivalist family he has a lot of expertise, in particular, exceptional tracking skills. Within the novel, he is clearly difficult for the other characters to understand. He doesn't belong to either the police or the military yet somehow he projects their authority. He keeps himself at a bit of a distance even when romantically involved yet at the same time he is understanding and kind. In the novel, he physically tracks a kidnapper through Silicon Valley in California whilst at the same time pursuing them on the dark net.

It is almost impossible to put the book down.

Maxine Broadbent

I really enjoyed this book.

I really enjoyed this book. The first one I have read from Jeffery Deaver. The story was a good one, not boring at any time. I wanted to get to the next chapter as quickly as possible.

The storyline was good but there was another story going through it, which I expect will lead to another book. There are twists throughout the book and, although he lost me a bit with explaining about video games, I found the whole concept believable. There is a lot going on but it is set out nicely, in a way you can keep up with it. Trying to guess the 'bad' guy was interesting.

All in all, I would recommend this book, especially if you want a holiday read, because you could get through it quicker!

A Stordy

A crime thriller as addictive as the video games it takes inspiration from!

How do you win a game you've never played before, knowing the price of losing is death?

Colter Shaw finds himself on the trail of a missing girl in silicon valley. Hunting her down unearths a crazed abductor who is taking victims seemingly at random and leaving them with just five tools to survive. Colter not only has to find the missing but also stay one step of the abductor before he selects his next victim. He soon realised the abductor is following the pattern of a video game. Can he solve the game and save the victims before it's too late?

This book is a crime thriller by Jeffery Deaver. It's well thought through and generally fast-paced. The beginning was a little slow for me but once the video game element became clear as a motive then the story began to pick up the pace and became highly addictive, much like the video games the book takes inspiration from. I've never read Deaver before but I really warmed to the character of Colter Shaw. The book is interspersed with flashbacks to his youth and unusual upbringing on 'The Compound'. I found this a great way to allow us to understand how some of Colter's eccentricities have taken shape. I found myself rooting for him to solve the case.

I would recommend this to anyone wanting a well thought out crime thriller. If you're also a fan of video games then what are you waiting for?!

Jo Corrado

Jeffery Deaver is a master of suspense and psychology, and his latest novel – the first in a new series – does not disappoint.

Jeffery Deaver is a master of suspense and psychology, and his latest novel – the first in a new series – does not disappoint.

The Never Game presents a new character, Colter Shaw. What’s most appealing about Shaw is he does not appear to be your standard ‘ragged edge’ ex-cop that fill most crime thrillers. He has a demon or two of course – who doesn’t – but he also seems to have more depth and heart than some other comparable leading men. Shaw finds people for a living, be that victims, fugitives, or people missing from life.

In this first introduction to him, he’s faced with a new challenge beyond his experiences growing up in a rural ranch to a father adamant that his children learn to survive in the wild. This time, Shaw is faced with the world of online gaming, thrust into the heart of Silicon Valley and a very different way of life.

Deaver takes us through a maze of aliases, coding, and gaming strategy, each page being a new level to interpret, understand, and hopefully conquer. The Never Game is the crime thriller for our times of surveillance and paranoia, where big data is both the saviour and destruction of life as we know it. And of course, we’re left with a textbook cliffhanger already anticipating Shaw’s next challenge.

Tiffany Chevis

What’s not to like a new Jeffrey Deaver with a new detective and a new outlook on the investigation?

A great new book from a bestselling author. Meticulously plotted. A really good read that you would expect from this author.

This book is set in Silicon Valley and in the world of the Gamer.

Firstly a girl is taken and in helping to find her someone gets killed. Then a man is taken and is left in a forest. Can he find him in time? The third is left in a sinking boat.

This follows the pattern of an online game, each abductee taken in the same way as the game. They are left stranded somewhere with five objects that could help them to escape. Why are they taken and what has this to do the 'Whispering Man' game? But the game escalates and Colter is drawn into a game that he may not be able to win.

Hard to put down.

Jocelyn F Garvey

Interesting plot and an intriguing new series.

This is the first in a new series by Jeffery Deaver featuring Colter Shaw. Colter is an interesting character - he grew up in a survivalist family in deep America and lives a nomadic life in his camper van, seeking rewards offered by families for finding missing persons.

The plot was based around the gaming world and had the usual twists and turns that you would expect from Jeffrey Deaver. It kept you turning the pages and as the book progressed you learnt (via flashbacks) about Colter's life growing up, of which there is a mystery Colter is still trying to get to the bottom of - probably more to be revealed in future books!

I am a big fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series of books by the same author and had high hopes for this book. It didn't disappoint, but I still prefer the Lincoln Rhyme series. At times I found the main character arrogant and never quite warmed to him. Maybe this will improve with future books in the series as his character develops.

However, overall it was an exciting read and I would seek out any future books featuring this character.

Katherine Stewart

Interesting story for those who crave mystery, crime and adventure.

Interesting title to this book. It wasn't obvious it was going to be about from the title, which intrigued me. The Never Game has a really good concept, bringing together the gaming world with darker aspects of society. It also touched on the dangers of the digital world. I thought that the two key characters carry this story by solving the mystery of the Whispering Man. I foud these two characters believable and likeable.

Sally Wood

The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver......Should you read it........Yes you should.

I was thrilled when I was asked by LoveReading to review Jeffery Deaver’s new book with a new “Hero” too. I had not read anything by Deaver for a long time but I enjoyed his Lincoln Rhyme books. The new hero is a man brought up by isolationist parents who bring him up to be able to survive using only his wits. We learn more about Colter Shaw’s upbringing as the book progresses. Colter learns of a kidnapping in Silicon Valley with a reward, he is to rescue a missing teenager. The link between the girls disappearance and computer gaming world develops. The book is easy to read and full of action. It is not as “dark” as the Lincoln Rhyme books but the storylines (there is more than just one ) grab you and draw you into the book. There are several red herrings and I was sure that I knew who the “Whispering Man” was, I was wrong, I even worked out why this person did the deeds. The only annoyance for me was the random use of initialisations at the start of the book.
Should you read it...........YES.

Karin Gibson

A thrill ride through Silicon Valley - and a sinister video game that somebody wants to bring to life...

Jeffery Deaver’s The Never Game follows Colter Shaw, a “hunter for hire” who specializes in finding missing persons for a financial reward. He is on California’s west coast when a new case presents itself – a missing girl whose disappearance has echoes of a sinister video game from the past... and it seems she won’t be the only player.

I enjoyed this book and its unique plot. It’s a nice dabble into the world of Silicon Valley (speaking as someone who knows little about the industry) and, while detailed, is written in a way that is layman-friendly.

Colter Shaw is an intriguing hero with a defined character that is neither brash nor dramatic (as lead heroes often are). He grew up in a “doomsday survival” family, where he and his siblings learned to look after themselves in a world where one must depend only on the earth, its natural resources, and their own skills. This shapes both Colter’s character and his niche as a finder of missing persons.

I found the video-game plot interesting, though not quite as fast-paced as I was expecting (having previously read lots of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme thrillers). However, there are a couple of great subplots in the book, one of which finishes on a really interesting premise for the next book in what I understand is to be a Colter Shaw series.

Jess Read

Brilliant thriller by a brand new author and features a new character ‘colter Shaw’ who also featured in Deaver’s short story captivated.

This is Deavers latest novel and introduces a new character Colter Shaw who has previously appeared in Deavers short stories Captivated. The style of the book is similar to that of a jack reacher. I struggled at first to get into this book as it requires a lot of concentration but once I got into it I enjoyed it. Good plot with lots of interesting twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes.

Helen appleby

A gripping, new action packed thriller. Colter Shaw finds missing people, but this could be his toughest assignment yet. A riveting plot and great characters make this book a compulsive read.

There is lots to like about this book. Colter Shaw’s unusual occupation and his wilderness background make a great storyline. Overall he’s a likeable character and acts as quite a hero. This particular book is set in the world of gaming, which does not hold huge appeal for me. The overall story is strong enough though to overlook this. There is also an interesting subplot which is linked to his past and his father. Hopefully more will be revealed in the next book, which I am already really looking forward to reading.

Adrienne Kinsella

A brilliant new series I will be keeping an eye on!

In The Never Game we meet Colter Shaw. An investigator/bounty hunter with a unique upbringing and seemingly a heart of gold. A crime mystery connected to the world of gaming in Silicone valley is a brilliant concept and I suppose a play on perceived impacts of video games on behaviour. 

I enjoyed this book and every time a new character came into view I was deciding whether they were the killer. I hadn't guessed the outcome, but I loved the adrenaline rush of witnessing Colter race around trying to work everything out before time ran out, like you would experience trying to complete a level on a video game.

Wonderful and I will be keeping my eye out for more Jeffery Deaver Books.


Charlotte Walker

Jeffery Deaver Press Reviews

`The Never Game is the very definition of a page-turner' Ian Rankin

`Terrific writing, vivid and raw, Deaver grips from the very first line and never lets up. He is, hands-down, one of the finest thriller writers of our time' Peter James

`As always, Deaver gets you in his stealthy grip on page one, and then takes you on a wild and inventive ride ...

this time with new star character Colter Shaw.

No one in the world does this kind of thing better than Deaver' Lee Child

`Masterful storytelling - The Never Game is Deaver's most riveting, most twisty, most unputdownable novel yet' Karin Slaughter

`Lightning-fast and loaded with twists, The Never Game is a thrill a minute from one of the best.

Don't miss it' Harlan Coben

`Jeffery Deaver scores yet again with a fascinating new detective, Colter Shaw, and a plot as full of thrills and twists and turns as you would expect from him. With The Never Game you know you are in the hands of a master. But be warned-don't start this too late in the evening because sleep would be an annoying interruption once you've started reading!' Peter Robinson

`A superb thriller. Twisty, ingenious and totally gripping. Colter Shaw is a fascinating, complex new character. Excellent' Will Dean

Praise for Jeffery Deaver:

'If you want thrills, Deaver is your man' Guardian

'One of the most consistent writers of clever, entertaining and often thought-provoking thrillers in the world' Simon Kernick

'The best psychological thriller writer around' The Times

'The most creative, skilled and intriguing thriller writer in the world' Daily Telegraph

'Deaver is a master of plot twists' Daily Mail

`A tightly plotted masterpiece' Sun

`Flawlessly constructed and paced' Sunday Times

`The king of suspense is back and he's done it again...Riveting' Glasgow Herald

`Breathlessly entertaining' Irish Independent

`No one is better at narrative misdirection' Evening Standard

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780008303761
Publication date: 19/03/2020
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008303723
Publication date: 16/05/2019
Format: Hardback

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About Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is the author of three collections of short stories and 32 suspense novels. He is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, which include the number one bestsellers The Vanished Man, The Twelfth Card and The Cold Moon, as well as The Bone Collector which was made into a feature film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. The first Kathryn Dance novel, The Sleeping Doll, was published in 2007 to enormous acclaim.A three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader's Award for Best Short Story of the year, he has been nominated for an Anthony Award and six Edgar Awards ...

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