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Her Deadly Game


Her Deadly Game

Robert Dugoni, whose books have featured protagonists such as David Sloane, Tracy Crosswhite and Charles Jenkins, introduces a new main character to root for in HER DEADLY GAME.

A counselor once described the Duggan family as “enmeshed,” and not in a complimentary way. Leading the pack is Patrick “Patsy” Duggan, the “Irish Brawler,” a famous defense attorney who long dreamed of turning Patrick Duggan & Associates into Patrick Duggan & Sons. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Patsy’s sharp mind that his sons inherited, but his affinity for alcohol. So running the practice --- as well as babysitting Patsy, who is prone to benders --- has been left to his daughters.

"Perhaps one of the best puzzles that I have ever read, HER DEADLY GAME is further proof that Dugoni gets better with every book. The only thing missing from this perfect novel is a sequel."

Although she shares her father’s intelligence and ability to strategize, it makes sense that Keera stayed far away from Patrick Duggan & Associates, choosing instead to become a prosecutor. For a while, she was building a solid reputation, until an affair with her boss, Miller Ambrose, turned sour and left her plateaued with no opportunities to rise in the ranks. When she sensed that Miller was following in the footsteps of her alcoholic father and ended the relationship, he became verbally abusive and confrontational, going so far as to stalk her.

Now Keera defends drunks and other small-time criminals, while Patsy drinks his mornings away in the pub below the family practice and her sisters, Ella and Maggie, help keep the business afloat. On the morning we meet Keera, she has just defended a repeat offender, and her spirits are low: her father is drunk again, her sisters blame her, and she has just run into her ex doing exactly what she swore she would never do.

Meanwhile, across town, Seattle Violent Crimes Detective Frank Rossi has just been called to a murder scene. The victim, Anne LaRussa, was found by her husband, Vince, with a gunshot wound through the back of her head. Vince claims that he had just returned from a gala, but it doesn’t take a detective to know that the husband is always a suspect. Plus, there are inconsistencies, including the fact that there was no forced entry and the killer left his or her gun behind.

Yet, somehow, the case only gets stranger from there. Anne was confined to a wheelchair following a horse-riding accident and had limited use of her hands, thus ruling out suicide. Vince claims that they had no visitors, yet the family’s own security camera shows back-to-back visits from both Anne’s lawyer and her best friend, oncologist Lisa Bennet, who had been helping Anne navigate her medications and rehabilitation. With no obvious suspects or clues, Vince quickly realizes that he needs a lawyer and contacts Patsy, the best of the best. But Patsy isn’t taking on clients anymore, so he gets Keera instead.

As Keera familiarizes herself with the case, reconnecting with her former colleague Frank in the process, it becomes clear that despite his alibi, Vince had numerous reasons to kill his wife. To make matters even trickier, the prosecutor will be Miller Ambrose, who not only plays dirty but wants to destroy Keera professionally and personally. As Keera and Frank work the case from both sides, a complicated, deadly game emerges when Keera receives a mysterious message that includes details about her childhood as a chess prodigy: “You’re in the game of your life, so play like your life depends on it…because it very well might.” Further messages seem to hint at Vince’s dark side, putting Keera’s belief in her client at risk.

Nothing is certain in life except death, taxes…and the fact that Robert Dugoni will always produce a winner. In introducing a new character, he has taken the best aspects of his previous works --- ripped-from-the-headlines plots; relatable, authentically human protagonists; and satisfying mysteries with morally gray areas --- and poured them into a fierce, intelligent woman with a beating, aching heart. Just as he has done in his Tracy Crosswhite series, Dugoni takes a hard look here at right and wrong, but this time with the edge that winning the case doesn’t always mean ensuring justice. This is a mental and emotional battle that plagues Keera, adding an even more compelling plotline to this already tantalizingly twisted case.

Perhaps one of the best puzzles that I have ever read, HER DEADLY GAME is further proof that Dugoni gets better with every book. The only thing missing from this perfect novel is a sequel.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on March 31, 2023

Her Deadly Game
by Robert Dugoni

  • Publication Date: March 28, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1662500181
  • ISBN-13: 9781662500183