“Powerful and tragic. Centering on humanity’s worst sins, Williams exploits and examines what happens when fate finally catches up to you. This is 80 pages of dark, ultra-violent, thought-provoking congestion. What you have here is three sculpted stories running simultaneously, interlacing slowly, divinely. Five out of five stars.”
“Game is a novella that takes the material of very hardboiled crime fiction and adds a horror/dark fantasy twist. It’s a story diamond-hard in tone, studded with imagery that will stay in your mind whether you like it or not, evoking a brutal world where evil flourishes and the innocent are liable to die horribly.”
Gary Couzens, Infinity Plus
“Pacy, hard-edged, and almost feverish in the intensity with which it moves towards its blood-soaked and righteous climax. The writing, as always with Williams, is both earthy and luminous, illustrating his ability to relate scenes of savage violence and corruption with clear and lucid prose. A blistering tale [that] reminds us of the genre’s continued transgressive power.”
The Alien Online
“A modern masterpiece of noir.”
“Conrad Williams possesses a ruthless imagination and the sensibility of a poet, breathing undeniable urgency into characters almost too easy to identify with. Game is a dark treasure… the author’s prose is like fine crystal on the verge of shattering. This novella is inspired modern noir fiction well worth experiencing.”
William P. Simmons
“…taut, controlled prose that draws you in and won’t let go.”
Neddal Ayad, Dead Angel
“A ferocious adventure. It is amazing. The shocking twists in plot keep you off balance and that accounts for some of the sting in the punches, but mostly it is Williams’ extraordinary writing. The dialogue, the narrative, even the damned section titles are memorable. Conrad Williams types a mean key.”
Doing the rounds. Getting things sorted. Rely on others for the important deals, the stuff that matters, and you’re asking to get fucked. It was non-stop, this job.
He dropped Brimelow off near his bedsit in East Ham and told him to break the gun up and lose it in at least fifteen different places. The bodies he would sort out. You couldn’t leave the mucky-mucky to gimps like Brimelow. Every outfit had its staff, every hard cunt his minions. Trouble was, nine out of ten times they were denser than neutron stars. They had to be. You couldn’t have smarts working under you. It would be constant yakking, offering this hypothesis and this prognosis… no, no, no, you don’t want to shoot him through the eye, he could survive that. Statistically, your best bet would be to… You needed shtoom guys who acted first and then didn’t think later. Brimelow was like that, with the bonus that he did the admin extremely well, while Eachus got on with the wetwork. He did the admin well because Eachus got on with the wetwork. He appreciated not being involved.
Alone in the car, Eachus ramped up the stereo – he liked to listen to Bowie when he was on rubber glove duty – and toed it along the A13 to the Royal Docks Road turn-off. Factories, desolate retail parks, gasometers and open wasteland stretched out around him like some film set that didn’t know what it wanted to be. He took a turning into badlands near the Docklands Light Railway depot and killed the headlights. Up ahead where the lane petered out, he saw Chettle’s silhouette against the bonfires. Beind him, piers and jetties fingered the great oily bend of the river at Gallions Reach. Lights from the short-haul jets taking off from London City Airport snagged and stretched in the water like strange phosphorescence. By a couple of rust-savaged oil drums, a drunk in clothes that resembled rolls of grey fat was silently, determinedly, fucking his senseless girlfriend while she leafed through a magazine, the pages of which had been sun-bleached to invisibility. The smell of burning shit drifted through the night.
Eachus got out of the car and ambled over to Chettle, who was watching the lovers while he worked the pump mechanism on his air rifle. Chettle wore a skull cap, the rim of which ended just where his eyes began. From what Eachus could tell, there wasn’t much in the way of a head to cover. Chettle made tapioca appear schooled. ‘How’s college coming along?’ he asked, his usual gambit.
Chettle spun around and smiled with a mouth that was like a split in a dried orange. ‘Studying for my fucking no levels, as fucking usual,’ he said. ‘You still mates with that Italian chap?
‘Oh yes,’ said Chettle. ‘Fuctifino. Me and him are snug as fucking buggers.’
Eachus snickered. ‘Nice to see you again, Chettle. I need to use one of the incinerators.’
‘Got one fired up fucking right nice. Shot a couple rats earlier. Size of footing fuckballs.’
‘That’s great, Chettle. You stoke up the barbecue. I’ll go and get the chops.’
Chettle went off to the great iron incinerator. The drunk had fallen asleep. His partner was trying to get her knockers on but hadn’t realised that she was pushing both legs into one hole. ‘And they say romance is dead,’ Eachus whispered to himself as he moved back to the Alfa and opened the boot.
He hoisted the smaller of the two bin liners on to his shoulder. What was this girl’s name? Betty? Brenda? He couldn’t remember. She gave good head though. Spectacular head. The pair of them were tough bitches, he had to give them that.
Desperation pushed some wild buttons. He knew all about desperation, the ability it could draw from you. The girls had done him proud. And now he was giving them time off, for good behaviour. Her head was in a Waterstone’s bag, covered loosely with newspaper so she could have a last read. He lifted the bag and clenched it between his teeth while he shut the boot. The newspaper shifted, allowing him a look at the untidy swordplay that had taken her head off above the top lip. He’d never been able to get a clean neck cut. Her tongue sat in the gash like an unwanted oyster that had dried in its shell. The fading smell of Doublemint wafted off it.
© Conrad Williams