REVIEW: Guess Who, Chris McGeorge

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The rules are simple. But the game is not. At eleven years old, Morgan Sheppard solved the murder of a teacher when everyone else believed it to be a suicide. The publicity surrounding the case laid the foundation for his reputation as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He parlayed that fame into a gig as TV's "resident detective," solving the more typical tawdry daytime talk show mysteries like "Who is the father?" and "Is he cheating?" Until, that is, Sheppard wakes up handcuffed to a bed in an unfamiliar hotel room. Around him, five strangers are slowly waking up, as well. Soon they discover a corpse in the bathtub and Sheppard is challenged to put his deductive skills to the test. One of the people in the room is the killer. He has three hours to solve the murder. If he doesn't find the killer, they all will die.

Get ready to suspend your disbelief.
A little more. More. Mooore.
There. Now you are prepared for the absurdity of Guess Who.
Going into this I was pretty excited for a locked room mystery a la And There Were None, which, of course, is a subset of the thriller/mystery genre that requires a little more suspension of disbelief than most. I knew that going into it; that I would have to ignore certain things for the book to work in the predominantly logical-wired tangles of my brain - but when these types of books are good, they’re amazing (although I do tend to say that about the entire thriller/mystery backlog) and often, I am willing to put up with a few iffy moments for a few hundred pages of magic.
But not this much. Not this many.
Think Jeremy Kyle (or Jerry Springer if you’re in the USA) being tasked to solve a murder only, in this world, Jez propelled himself to fame through a far more grisly, horrifying channel than Capital FM. It made me ponder whether anyone has actually turned death into fame and a career. I mean, yes, survivors of mass shootings have become political activists on them global stage but outside of them and the names of serial killers that are burned into our brains, nobody. It feels a little cheap, doesn’t it? Even in our world where a person can become a celebrity for practically no reason at all, a human being's death turning into someone’s path towards stardom and a daytime talk show feels… cold.
That was already something that rubbed me up the wrong way with the main character right off the bat but, it didn’t take me long to realise that, apart from the locked-room setting and the gender switch, he very much resembled the slew of alcoholic female protagonists that we have seen far too much of in the thriller/mystery genres over the past few years.
Is it supposed to make them unreliable narrators? Is it supposed to make them flawed?
Who really knows, but all I have gathered is that I can not stand them. 
And that and the fact that the main character does not actually have any credentials, Chris McGeorge tries to run the book in the exact same way as standard detective novels - the protagonist getting to know the suspects and distinguishing the red herrings from the actual clues. But honestly, the characters were too flat, too abstract and too confused for this to be in anyway successful. 
Overall, this was one of the least successful thriller/mysteries I have read in a long time and though, up until now, it has been universal that I will only give a one-star ratings to books that I simply could not finish, despite making it to the final page, this one still deserves it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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