Book Review: The Killing Game by J.S. Carol

The Killing GameThe Killing Game by J.S. Carol

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

High octane thriller that I just couldn’t stop reading.

Well written and explosive, the pace never lets up and the author manages to keep the tension tight throughout. There’s not a lot of depth to it but if you’re looking for an exciting read with a dash of celebrity thrown in you can’t go too far wrong with this.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars.

And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.

You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.

He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.

If he dies. You die.

You have four hours to stay alive.

What would you do?

A heart-stopping thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for fans of Peter Swanson, Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay.


I’ve never read any books by James Carol before but when I spotted this being mentioned on social media and a few blogs I couldn’t resist seeking it out. I was in the right mood for something action packed and a bit different from my usual thrillers and that’s exactly what I got.

I loved the idea of this story, as a hostage situation always seems to be a great way to create tension. I have to admit I did wonder whether the author would be able to maintain it for the length of the book, I mean there’s only so many times you can threaten someone before it loses the impact, but actually the tension simmers away nicely throughout. There are so many twists, reveals and unexpected shocks that it keeps you balanced on the edge of your seat.

The majority of the book is told from inside the restaurant and I think this helps build the pressure by creating this feeling of being trapped with the hostages. Even in periods where there is very little happening there is an oppressive feeling that left me very uncomfortable.

The story is told in the third person from the points of view of four of the characters. Two, JJ and Alex King, are trapped in the restaurant with the gunman and the other two, Rob and Seth, work for one of the TV news stations reporting on events. The chapters generally alternate between each of the characters and this movement works well as it allows you to both feel the emotion from the hostages but also have a front row seat into the outside world’s perspective. I did find it frustrating at times when the story would reach a climax then jump to another character, leaving you hanging on what happened next, but I know this was very probably the point.

If I had one criticism of this story however, it’s that it lacked a bit of depth and there wasn’t much to like or relate to in the characters. Each of them has their back story but being LA everyone seems to be working an angle of some description. JJ works in PR as a fixer, she can spin any story to her advantage. Alex is a young actor who’s hitting the big time but has a troubled past and a secret. Rob and Seth are the stereotypical cut throat tabloid journalists who’d sell their Granny for an exclusive. It’s difficult to feel any kind of sympathy towards them. The secondary characters, most of whom are also Hollywood A-listers, don’t come across much better either.

Despite this lack of empathy I honestly couldn’t put this book down. I was meant to be going out and doing things but instead I sat on the couch and read the whole story from start to finish. Like all big blockbusters though I think it’ll be a case of exciting at the time but doesn’t leave a lasting impression.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

One thought on “Book Review: The Killing Game by J.S. Carol

  1. […] After lots of YA I decided to switch genre and read The Killing Game by J.S. Carol which is a thriller about a hostage situation in an exclusive restaurant in Los Angeles. I spotted this on another blog last week (sorry I can’t remember who’s) and managed to pick up a copy from NetGalley. It’s an exciting read and I pretty much lost most of my Saturday due to an inability to put it down. The hostage taker is pretty trigger happy which makes for a lot of shocks and twists. If I had one criticism it’s that I didn’t really take to any of the characters and I doubt it’s a story that’ll stick with me. You can read my full review here. […]


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