When Sidney Sheldon came out with his best-selling Master of the Game in 1982, he had hit upon a rich vein in the mine of sordid family sagas. Depicting the unholy house of the Blackwells through the flashback of matriarch Kate, Sheldon stirred his thriller with characters galore, leaving readers to separate the good guys from the bad, and at times have them guessing who falls in which category. In this universe of family corporate intrigue and downright nastiness, Sheldon had created a mini Star Wars with Jedi knights being replaced by power-dressed board members.
Twenty-seven years later, another author picks up where the late Sheldon had stopped in this trans-generational vicious family thriller.
Tilly Bagshawe carries the flame in the sequel Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game, in which she not only updates the story, but rather effectively brings more contemporary thriller tools into the game. The book starts with a quiet death, that of Kate Blackwell who loomed over the first book like Fate. But the reader senses the other characters shuffling into powerplay like flies even at the funeral. Especially obvious in her lust for power and control is Kate’s grand-daughter, the disfigured, diabolical Alexandra. Once her identical twin sister Eve dies in childbirth, the stage is set for the next generation to squabble and stab their way.
The setting quickly shifts to the contemporary — and the horrific. Where Eve’s baby daughter, Lexi, now an eight-year-old girl, is kidnapped and tortured by her captors. Her piano-playing brother, Robbie, who is hated by his widower father, is set against Eve’s like-mother-like-son offspring Max. The Blackwell curse continues to run its course like blood.
If all this sounds like a soap opera with bristling sex and violence, that's exactly what it is. Bagshawe does well to don the Sheldon mantle and she dishes out pulp with generous doses of in-your-face drama. Corporate hi-jinks mixed with down ’n’ dirty family feuds make Mistress of the Game the airport paperback that you can finish while curled up in bed with your back turned away from your spouse.
Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game
Author: Tilly Bagshawe
Price: Rs 250 n pp 520