Book Review: The Game You Played by Anni Taylor


Two-year-old Tommy Basko goes missing from a popular inner-city playground. 6 months later, his parents begin receiving cryptic messages in rhyme about Tommy. The police don’t believe the messages are from the abductor, but Tommy’s mother Phoebe isn’t so sure. She begins a frantic search for the writer of the rhymes, at the cost of causing her marriage to fragment. When the shocking identity of the message-writer is discovered, Phoebe’s desperate race for the truth has only just begun.

Who took Tommy? And why?

A heart-stopping psychological thriller set harbor-side in Sydney.


I have had this book on my bookshelf for quite a while. I picked it because of the cover. I loved the picture of the little boy and the harbor although the raging storm made me wonder about his safety. Anyway, The Game You Played by Anni Taylor starts off on a normal day at the playground by the harbor. Phoebe and Luke are spending the afternoon with Tommy then Luke decides to get them ice-cream and at that point, Phoebe looked away for a minutes and the next thing; Tommy was gone.

After the Tommy’s disappearance, we then skip ahead to six months later. It is evident that Tommy is still missing and as readers, we can see the turmoil that his parents are undergoing especially Phoebe. Soon, the cryptic messages start to show-up.

The story is narrated through two main POVs by Phoebe and Luke. At first, Phoebe is having a mental breakdown and then she starts to sleep walk. The sleepwalking was so scary especially because she used to leave the house and walk quite far away in search of Tommy. There were incidents that took place during these episodes but it was hard to determine the difference between dreams and reality. Things get so twisted that everyone including Phoebe herself started thinking that she is crazy. Luke’s narrations are a bit different. They focus on how he is coping with the disappearance of his son but also the stress of his wife’s depression and sleepwalking.

The book alternates between fast and slow paces. There are chapters where a lot is happening with so many twists. However, there were also slow chapters that dragged on with nothing much occurring. I also didn’t like how everyone treated one of the main characters. The disbelief and suspicion from everyone feels like a cliché. I mean almost thrillers use the same angle with the suspicions. The one person who is right is usually the one nobody believes.

However, the final chapters were pretty intense. The twist was unpredictable. Once again, I couldn’t have guessed what had happened to Tommy and who exactly took him and why. After the villain was revealed, it was interesting to see how everyone found out and they dealt with it. I definitely enjoyed the first and final sections of the book and in particular the reveal. The slow sections around the middle part of the book were my main issue with the story. Anyway, I recommend The Game you Played by Anni Taylor to fans of this genre.