Book review: “Endgame” by Jeffrey Round.

As I didn’t really have anything this week for a “Self-discovery Saturday,” and on Monday I’m probably going to write something Halloween-themed, I’m going to publish my review of the book I read this morning now.

The formula is pretty standard: take a group of people that comprises of at least a quarter of which hate and distrust each other, isolate them in a house with no or little connection to the outside world, and kill them off one by one as they (and the audience) try to guess who did it until the surprise (hopefully) ending. We’ve seen this in countless books and movies, ranging from Agatha Christie novels to the board-game advertisement that is the Clue movie.

So try to forget this formula, and then try to ignore the fact that Endgame by Jeffrey Round features a  murder mystery surrounding a punk band and we can’t hear any of the music that is mentioned throughout, and you have an entertaining page-turner. I have to admit that I guessed the killer about two-thirds of the way through although for reasons that weren’t correct. I won’t spoil the ending by giving my reasons, don’t worry. But something tells me that it won’t be a total surprise.

The book starts off slow as we learn the history of each character as they’re on the way to Shark Island, an island off the Washington coast. The surviving ex-members of the punk band Ladykillers are on their way to a supposed recording gig to finish off their last album. With them are also people associated with the band, such as current and former lovers as well as a former drug dealer and music critic. We also learn that everybody involved was at a CD release party years prior at which a girl died of a drug overdose. They all meet at the lone house on the island to discover a recording studio and guest rooms for each of them.

The story starts off slowly during this stage, which unfortunately takes a little too long and left me confused as to what type of story this book was. Things pick up when the first victim, a lawyer who cleared the band of charges related to the girl’s death, dies of poisoning. The book then becomes hard to put down. Even though we know how each person dies as related to a famous song by the band, we want to watch it happen. Like I said, I wasn’t surprised to find out who did it, although the book misled me from that direction for a while by learning of that character’s fate.

Even though Endgame starts off a little slow, it’s largely an enjoyable book, even if its plot is a cliché.  Characters such as Spike Anthrax and Max Hardcore come to life pretty easily as their backstories and quirks are well-thought out. I wish there was a way to hear snippets of some of these songs, even if, by judging by the narrative, the music would probably be crap. That would actually heighten the experience but I won’t cry over it. I was satisfied regardless.

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