Kidnapping, murder, and mind games are afoot in Fraser’s (Simon Says, 2014) latest thriller, which revisits PI Sam McNamara as she tackles a new case.It’s July 1980, and pregnant Nina LeBlanc has been having a strange nightmare: she repeatedly dreams of abandoning her 5-year-old daughter, Gabriella, in the forest. Her husband, Quentin, says it’s nothing, but Nina is convinced she’s inherited her Scottish grandmother’s prophetic vision and that something terrible is going to happen to Gabriella. Her premonitions turn out to be all too true: Gabriella goes missing during the family’s vacation to a remote cabin and isn’t found until later, having killed the man who was physically and sexually abusing her. Ten years later, Quentin can tell there’s something wrong with Gabriella; his worst fears are confirmed when Isabella, her younger sister, is pushed from a treehouse. The story then flashes forward to the present day, when private detective Sam McNamara meets the adult Gabriella, not realizing they used to live next door to each other as children. Sam and her boyfriend, Reece, are reluctantly drawn into Gabriella’s life after she disappears, leaving nothing but a trail of blood and a 911 call saying her husband tried to kill her. Now, Sam and Reece must discover whether Gabriella is alive or dead—and who might have tried to murder her. Fraser’s second entry in the Perdition Games series is much stronger than the first. The writing throughout is taut and focused, capturing the reader’s attention and constantly upping the stakes as Sam tries to untangle the mystery that is Gabriella. Sam is a more compelling character this time around, too; as she wades through Gabriella’s past, she discovers things about her own that drive a wedge between her and Reece, allowing her to explore her own shortcomings and grow as a person. Although the novel gives away the answer to the mystery too soon, it still delivers a good dose of entertainment and moral ambiguity along the way.A fast-paced mystery featuring plenty of excitement.—Kirkus Reviews
L.E. Fraser's Skully, Perdition Games blends paranormal and psychological horrors to craft a chilling tale that grips from start to finish. Gabrielle LeBlanc is a strange housewife with a mysterious past. When she disappears and all evidence points to her murder, Samantha McNamara and Reece Hash must delve into a sordid past and dredge up buried secrets, some of which can profoundly impact their own lives.
There are a finite number of twists possible in any given thriller. This makes veteran readers, through years of experience, aware of hints, smoking guns, and foreshadowing events that can make predicting the next scene a lazy affair. Skully, Perdition Games plays with the reader's head, mixing it up by throwing a bevy of different twists that give the elusive feeling of being actually surprised and shocked at the revelations in each new chapter. Sam and Reece are a pair people would root for, and Gabrielle is a character I found myself making excuses for until the very end of the novel.
The novel is dark and gritty and takes an unflinching look at violence and gore. Given this, the novel does not rely solely on these devices to create a pervasive sense of horror; rather, the author uses subtle machinations to make the reader more scared of what's happening off-scene. L.E. Fraser has shown that she can create a complex thriller that blends numerous layers to truly craft a three-dimensional story. I look forward to the next adventure of Sam and Reece, at the same time hoping and dreading for more of the complicated Gabrielle.—Readers' Favorite
Skully, Perdition Games by L.E. Fraser is a dark thriller that is somehow understated while still being strongly genre fiction. In this novel, Gabriella LeBlanc is found wandering the ice of Lake Superior following her abduction by a man found dead in the cabin where he held her. Her memories of the event are cloudy, and the crime is considered solved. Thirty years later, Gabriella disappears again, in a very Gone Girl style, leaving her husband to take the blame for her supposed murder. The two people inspecting her disappearance have troubles of their own as Gabriella’s past opens up part of their own, as well as opening a question about their future.
Skully, Perdition Games is a disturbing piece of fiction in some of the best ways. As a book in a series, this works especially well, since it answers as many questions as it asks, and leaves the reader satisfied, but still wanting more. Especially enjoyable in this novel are the Canadian and northern Michigan settings. These are places less often seen in fiction, and while they don’t play an especially huge role in the novel overall, it’s still nice to get out of the typical London, New York, L.A. trend and see something else. This is definitely not a book for readers who like happy endings and neatly wrapped up story lines. There is obviously much more going on in this world than this book alone has a chance to delve into, and it does not shy from disturbing images or the lack thereof, drawing on the idea that the monster you don’t see is creepier than the one that you do. A solid novel with good pacing and many twists, L.E. Fraser is a storyteller to watch and has a promising series on her hands for the right crowd of readers.—San Francisco Book Review