Barry Jonsberg, Game Theory, Allen & Unwin, June 2016, 320pp., $19.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760290153
When Summerlee, older sister of sixteen year old Jamie, wins seven and half million dollars in a lottery their younger sister, eight year old Phoebe, is kidnapped and held to ransom. The kidnapper will only make contact with Jamie who, with his keen mathematical brain and a penchant for logical analysis, tries to out think and out manoeuvre the kidnapper using some of the principles of Game Theory.* However, the kidnapper seems to be able to predict Jamie’s every move and appears to enjoy the intellectual engagement. Distrusting the police and even suspecting members of his own family, Jamie realises he must do something bold and unexpected if he is to secure the release of Phoebe.
In a classic race against time, Game Theory is a fast paced ‘Whodunit’ with short chapters that keep the twists and turns in the plot coming at a hectic rate. The cat-and-mouse game Jamie plays with the kidnapper is cleverly developed and the sense of mounting tension builds to a heart-stopping climax. Jonsberg has created interesting and sympathetic characters and it is the desire to unmask the mysterious kidnapper that keeps the reader enthralled. Suitable for readers in the 13 plus age group, Game Theory is a compelling and gripping thriller that will be enjoyed by adult readers too.
*Game Theory is the mathematical study of human behaviour and decision making, used to try to predict what an opponent will do in a competitive situation so that the optimal outcome can be achieved, often attained by making unexpected moves that will catch the opponent unawares.
Reviewed by John Nolan