Cover Image: The Players

The Players

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Member Reviews

What an exciting thriller! Who is the Host and why were the players chosen is the mystery in the center of it. I literally couldn’t stop reading!
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I’d like to thank HQ and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read ‘The Players’ by Darren O’Sullivan in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

The residents of Peterborough are terrified to be on the streets at night as The Host has set out his instructions for The Game and the Players either have to kill or be killed.  DI Karen Holt has been suspended from work over the death of Grayson James, but Karen can’t help but want to be involved in the arrest of The Host especially when he starts making it personal.  But how can The Host be stopped when he’s always one step ahead of them?

‘The Players’ is one of the scariest psychological thrillers I’ve had the pleasure to read.  From the start The Host draws you in with his choice of Players, through every shocking Game, every devious twist and turn, the final twist bringing tears to my eyes, and finally drawing Karen into his cunning manoeuvres although her job could be at risk if she becomes involved.  I loved the characters of Karen, Howard, Sam and Bradshaw, and although I thought the end a bit hurried I can’t fault the complex and chilling plot that had me reading late into the night.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last.
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So so good!

A serial killer thriller with a twist - the "serial killer" doesnt actually kill anyone..

Based around the "trolley problem" and its moral/ethical challenge, this book is really refreshing, fast paced and believable with a flawed yet likeable lead character who I would love to see featured in a series of books.

Includes a couple of shocks (one of which i was genuinely shocked at)

Highly recommended.
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Wow. Fast paced, breath holding page turner. I was hooked from the beginning. Reading the blurb it sounded like a well known film franchise that I love that 'plays a game' but I was so wrong. This held it's own story that was such a fresh idea. As well as some uncomfortable moments it raises some moral questions that you find yourself asking throughout.

The Host is playing a game and you are one of the Players. Once you have been chosen your choices are unthinkable. Only one of you can come out alive. Who exactly is the victim? What would you do?

DI Karen Holt is on suspended leave following a previous case but she must get involved, putting at risk everything and everyone she holds dear, to catch The Host.

Twists and turns everywhere as well as one shock 'did I just read that' moment that I had to go back to.

Fantastic book and definitely a massive 5 stars. Highly recommended. Thank you Netgalley for this ARC copy in return for review. I loved it.
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When I read the description for The Players by Darren O’Sullivan, I knew this is my type of psychological thriller and I was not wrong. The Players is a brilliant intense thriller and my first from the author I have read.
Set in Peterborough, after conducting two successful experiments. the Host (killer) devises a game to test your morale compass. Would you be killed or be a killer? That is the question. The first game involves Timothy Smart who visits a Chinese restaurant every Tuesday Night. Michelle Reed who works there. The host arrives wearing a bike helmet that persuades them to play the game but there is no winners and they both end up dead. The host continues with his game. But the police are not far behind him.
The story is also about DS Karen Holt who has been suspended from her job. While investigating a suspect was unlawfully killed. But that doesn’t stop her getting involved with the case of The Host.
I really enjoyed The players. This is a fast-paced unique thriller with heart stopping moments. It had great characters especially the feisty, no nonsense DS Holt. Who wouldn’t stop to find the killer even if it cost her job. 
After reading this I cannot wait to have a look of the other books that the author has written.
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This is my first book by Darren O’Sullivan and now my tbr pile will be even bigger since I simply had to include his previous books in it!
If I had to sum up this book in one sentence: Couldn’t put this book down.
Fast paced and with an incredible plot as well as incredibly well written. Dark, twisty, amazing! 

This books tests your morals as a reader and makes you wondering how far will someone go when they are pushed to their limits. There are great twists and turns that kept the narrative very compelling throughout. I couldn’t dare to stop reading it until I found out what happened. 

The characters were really interesting and I hope that this book will be the start of a series with DI Holt! 

The social media discussions were a fantastic touch and really interesting although they caused me even more tension and anticipation. 

Overall this was a fantastic and thrilling read and I highly recommend this book for any thriller fans. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and HQ  for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
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I'd been in a bit of a reading slump before picking this book up but boy did that get fixed quickly! It grabbed me and did not let me go until the bitter end. I really enjoyed the main character and liked that the situation we found her in at the start of the novel was so different to your usual crime-centred thrillers. The way her character evolved as the story unfolded was just as intriguing as the nature of The Host, whose development I also enjoyed. The slight changes to the choices of people chosen to play the game as it progressed were so interesting. I did have an inkling of who The Host might be towards the end of the novel but not enough to make the reveal feel obvious. Overall a cleverly crafted, well plotted, character driven narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend.
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Oh wow what a book! This book is probably one of my favourites this year! It had me hooked from the first page! It’s fast paced and I never got bored! If it wasn’t for work and life I could of easily finished this in one sitting!

Darren makes you think throughout the book what would you do in that situation? Would you play the game or be killed? I’m not going to lie I think I was so involved in the book where I felt connected to the characters and one of the twists did make me tear up 😂! 

It’s a proper cat and mouse between DI Holt and the host and it makes you want to scream as the time ticks down.
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Thank you netgalley for a copy of this book. I was so excited to read it and I love the cover. Before I started it I saw that it was compared to The Chain, this made me very nervous because unfortunately I did not love that book. I totally understand how it was compared with the game aspect but for me there is honestly no comparison. I loved this book, it was written so well and really kept my attention and I felt nervous throughout. Towards the end something happened which made me so sad as I liked all the characters but I liked the ending. I particularly enjoyed the police and crime details within the book and you can really see how much effort has gone into researching.
I would recommend this book to everyone who loves crime or thrillers.
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When I read the description of this book I was drawn in immediately, my favourite genre, however, when I started to read The Players, I realised this was so much better than I could have imagined. Such clever cat and mouse games and truly terrifying events throughout. 

This book created a world that was all too real, likeable characters, brilliant and captivating chapters that flowed effortlessly. I usually predict the outcome in most books, not this one. 

I am sad to finish this, but so so glad I’ve had the privilege of reading it. Totally delicious read recommended for any horror, thriller, crime or BOOK fan! 

ABSOLUTELY DESERVING OF FIVE STARS (and more)
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Wow! What an exhilarating read. This book infiltrated my dreams and kept me awake. I couldn't put it down. I think it will stick with me for some time. 

The plot is so well thought out and nothing like anything I've read before. It keeps you on the edge of the seat. There are so many characters involved in the book, but it is so well written that it is easy to follow who is who.

I really admired the main protagonist, DI Karen Holt. She was hardworking, feisty and determined. The way her relationship with her DS had been portrayed, was an integral part to the story. 

If you have not read anything by this Author, I definitely recommend that you do as this is his best work yet. It has to be my book of the year in it's genre. 

Thank you to Net Galley and the Publisher for allowing me to read and review this title.
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I had never come across Darren O'Sullivan's work before so I was intrigued to see his forthcoming book The Players promoted through a book related social media group I am a member of.

What a refreshing focus for a plot, I knew prior to reading the book that the author had experienced a situation similar to the plot so I was equally horrified and intrigued as to how the story would unfurl.

Set in and around Peterborough, I was treated to a dark, twisted tale centred around somewhere I grew up as a teenager so the description and setting felt especially 'real' to me as I knew vividly the areas of the city and its dark bridges / underpasses and murky stretches of water that featured throughout the book's sinister Game locations.

Game one starts in February with a man innocently going to pick up his usual Chinese takeaway from his usual takeaway shop. While waiting for a meal, a man wearing a motorbike helmet enters the takeaway and tells the man and the shop owner they are going to play a game and only the winner will survive... From there it's a roller coaster of cat and mouse as the police try and hunt the Host before he forces more people to play his game of life and death.

A gripping, dark and twisty thriller perfect for the dark, colder nights of winter. People who enjoyed films like Saw would enjoy this novel.
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Enjoyable, I was drawn in by the blurb and the cover. 
Reminded me a bit of MJ Arlidge. 
The trolley problem was an interesting one, wish the police hadn't been portrayed as quite so inept and so easily bested by "The Host" constantly.
I liked Howard, but didn't find Karen particularly likeable.
In my opinion it was a bit of a slow build up and a somewhat rushed ending
Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for my eARC in return for my honest review.
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I adore this author!! This is another absolutely fantastic read and a completely addictive book. Unique to anything I’ve read previously.
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My thoughts about this brilliantly written, gripping suspense, police procedural serial killer thirller, was outstanding, Darren O’Sullivan’s The Players, tells the story of a host, who picks 2 random people, at a time to play the game of death, a dangerous serial killer, who chooses his victims. It’s also the story of a detective Inspector Karen Holt who is suspended. While she is investigating the host case, which puts her out of the investigation, but soon she is drawn back into the investigation, was fantastic. Author Darren O’Sullivan not only writes a fantastic story, but the characters he writes, are brilliantly portrayed. Darren O’Sullivan’s The Players, has all the elements to be a good thriller, be it its hardhiting story, or the fantastic characters. The Players takes you on a rollocoster ride, what would you do if you were picked, to play the game of death. The characters were amazing, I loved DI Karen Holt character, a fearless detective, who will stop at nothing to stop the host. Was brilliantly written, what I loved about the story was, it had me on the edge of my seat. What a great ride, with its fantastic ending. Darren O’Sullivan’s The Players does not disappoint, it has scored big time for me,it deserves to be a TV series. Highly Recommended. I wish to see more of DI Karen Holt, in future books, should be a series. Well done Darren O’Sullivan, I have become a fan of your writin. A fast tensed gripping thriller, that will blow you away. I would like to say thank you to author Darren O’Sullivan, HQ Stories and Netgalley for giving me a chance to read and review, this outstanding book.ill be requesting a signed copy of this one, to be on my self when its released.. 💥💥💥💥💥⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Kill or be killed? A plot so dark and twisted that it belongs somewhere between the films Saw and Seven. A serial killer who manipulates the police and picks their victims because they are...  kind. At its heart is the trolley car dilemma - would you pull the lever and kill one to save five? The social media commentary gives a contemporary feel to a classic game of cat and mouse.
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Wow, just wow. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read. The premise is The Host chooses 2 players and forces then to play a deadly game, which only 1 can come out of alive. The book had me riveted and each time one game was over I couldn't put it down as I wanted to find out what the next game would be. This book also poses some major ethical dilemmas, ones I hope I never have to face! I had heard of the Trolley problem from The Good Place series on Netflix, but to face it in this dark and twisted way is truly terrifying. I would highly recommend this book to all thriller lovers.
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I really enjoyed this book all the way through.  It had a really good plot, great main characters and really keeps you hooked on the plot.  I would highly recommend this book.
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An absolutely brilliant police procedural story. Fast paced and engaging. This is definitely one of my favourite books. I loved it. Highly recommended.
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Kill or be killed - the Host will pick the Players for a game and this will be their choice to make - no other outcome is possible.  Karen Holt - a DI - enters the book when she is visiting her therapist after being suspended pending an  investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.  Because she is suspended she cannot work on this case but it very quickly gets to her.  Can she really avoid getting involved and what will the outcome of that be?

The book follows Karen and her police partner,  Howard, in their attempts to catch and stop the Host from playing future games.  With Karen suspended this is not easy on a professional basis.  Equally Karen's wife is not too happy about the risks either.  There are twists and turns here and few things are easy.  The town's citizens have growing concerns too.

From the start I found this a tense and edgy read.  And it got darker as time went by!  I'm not sure that the characters - Karen excepted - were the strongest part of this story.  However they played their parts well enough for the tale.  I guess the writing really made up for any other shortcomings there though for me.  The start was promising and the more I read the harder it was to put this down.  There was a feel of the early Arlidge/DI Grace books and I was drawn in completely.  There was a growing sense of dread and discomfort about what was happening and what might happen.  The ending...  I guess it was a bit obvious in some senses but definitely not in others - certainly it wasn't bad.

I could argue that this is slightly cliched.  There is a trouble cop who is suspended who is the key to solving these attacks.  That is true and some may see it like that.  However most crime stories have some elements in that rationally would not be easy to believe.  This one actually works on more than one level as the underlying story is about people's morality.  If anything that made this tale even more disconcerting for me.  In the end though I simply found this a well paced, tense and troubling read - very good indeed and my 4.5/5 is happily rounded up.
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