Vain Empires

Brandilyn Collins. Challow, $14.99 trade paper (338p) ISBN 978-0-6927-2311-1
Collins (Dark Justice) opens this ethics-focused mystery with a diverse assortment of contestants appearing on a new reality show. Sequestered on a private island off the coast of Australia, six strangers vie for the Dream Prize—a prize of their own choosing, worth up to $10 million. The producer provides instructions via messages that appear at an appointed time on a computer monitor, the first of which delivers the ominous terms of the game: each of the six contestants harbors a true secret from their past that correlates to one of the seven deadly sins. In order to win, the contestants must link each sin to the appropriate person, including naming their own offenses. Collins cleverly switches perspective as details of the contest and the contestant’s lives are teased out. There is a computer engineer, a gregarious radio host, a foundation owner from Malibu, an elegant v-p of a software company, an actress ingénue, and earnest, charmingly sarcastic Gina Corrales, a real estate agent from Pasadena. While the other characters are taken over by the stakes of the game, Gina seems to be the only participant with a modicum of faith. As the dog-eat-dog rules of the game bring out the worst in the contestants, readers will wonder whether true absolution is possible under the gaze of millions of viewers. Readers of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None will be riveted by Collins’s incisive take on the values of reality TV culture. (June)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-1-4104-9573-0
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