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The Zero Game    by Brad Meltzer order for
Zero Game
by Brad Meltzer
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I liked The Zero Game even more than The Millionaires. Like the former, this new novel is a hyperactive thriller, in constant motion. It starts with a game, in which two disillusioned young men participate in order to add zest to their Capitol lives. The Zero Game adds spice all right - the deadly variety.

Matthew is a senior staffer for Congressman Cordell. His old friend and fellow staffer Harris introduces Matthew to a game being played by their colleagues, who take dares to insert items into bills, betting on the results. They believe it's innocent. They 'play at the margins' where it's safe and fun. But is it really? After the duo accepts a challenge relating to an insignificant land sale in South Dakota, the game turns into a deadly race to outrun an assassin named Janos (who has a Terminator's persistence and indestructibity), and to understand what turned the two friends into targets.

Needing help, Harris involves Viv - a tall young black, still idealistic, page, who doesn't appreciate being forced to run for her life, just for doing a small favor. In between adrenaline charged cliffhanger escapes from Janos, they use the considerable resources at a senior staffer's disposal in an attempt to find out more about Wendell Mining. In particular they need to know why this obscure company bought a goldmine that's all out of gold. And in Viv's company, Harris begins to remember why he wanted to work in Washington in the first place.

There are thrills eight thousand feet underground, and through the corridors of the basement bowels of the Capitol, as well as more than one betrayal before it's all over. Harris learns what a modern Midas touch is all about and rediscovers his younger self. It's one of those thrillers that won't let you put it down - highly recommended.

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