CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Killing Game

Author: Max Allan Collins
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 1 4165 0234 3
Available 07 November 2005

Ever since it was dreamt up in the wastelands of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas has always been a city of dreams. The dream eventually killed its creator, Benjamin Bugsy Seigel, and this gaudy edifice to greed and lost dreams would play host to many more deaths. Political infighting has separated the members of Gis Grissom's once renowned CSI team, but separation can often be a transitory state. In the gated community of Los Calina, a haven for the retired wealthy, Gil Grissom is called to investigate the murder of Grace Salfer, an apparently motiveless crime. Across town Catherine Willows, the new swing shift supervisor, has troubles of her own. The body of Angela Dearborn, battered and bloody, lies alone in her apartment, another death in the city of dreams...

Killing Game is a new novel based on the hugely successful CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - a hundred episodes can't be wrong. Written by the much respected writer Max Allan Collins, whose accomplishments are numerous by anyone's standard. Within the world of CSI he has written several novels, comics and two video games. Outside of CSI he is a prodigious and award winning writer of crime stories, perhaps even if you think that you have heard nothing of his work, you might remember a little story called The Road to Perdition, which was turned into a great film staring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law. If that wasn't enough he makes his own movies and music.

Killing Game is a good novel, even for non-fans of the show. It will keep you entertained and guessing. There's no point in saying that the killer or killers won't be caught, after all this is the format of the show so fans will have an expectation that the same template will be mirrored in the novel. Sometimes, though, it's not the destination which counts but the journey. In this case Collins has done a fine job of taking the reader on a journey, whilst keeping them guessing at each turn of the plot.

There are a number of threads that run through the novel that lifts it above your average genre piece. Although, not shoved down the throats of the reader is the concept which many of the characters have to struggle with, the examination of why they do the job they do. Now it would be easy to just make the CSI staff have a sense of over riding justice which drives them forward, but Collins is more realistic about such things. Personal motivation is individual to each person. So, personal feelings, ambition and a moral centre all play a role. The very idea of motivation finally becomes the central idea around which the narrative revolves.

As I am not a fan of the show I can't really say if the characterisations are accurate, though, from a writer of this calibre I'd be surprised if it wasn't. What I can say is that the characters all have their own individual voices in the novel.

So, a good read for fans of detective novels regardless of whether they are fans of the show.

Charles Packer

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