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A Numbers Game

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One dead man and a missing lottery ticket. Two family members who need that money to get away from the rundown Blades Edge estate. Three local gangsters who want that money for themselves. Meet Malachite Jones – the foremost (and only) psychic medium on the gritty Blades Edge estate. All he wants are two things: a name that isn’t ‘Malachite’, and a quiet life. And maybe some One dead man and a missing lottery ticket. Two family members who need that money to get away from the rundown Blades Edge estate. Three local gangsters who want that money for themselves. Meet Malachite Jones – the foremost (and only) psychic medium on the gritty Blades Edge estate. All he wants are two things: a name that isn’t ‘Malachite’, and a quiet life. And maybe some real psychic powers, but he’s making a living without them. Janine Stanbeck wants to find her dead husband Larry’s winning ticket and escape Blades Edge with her son. And she thinks Mal can help her. But Larry’s dad is the crime lord of the estate, and he wants that ticket for himself, and worse for Mal, he's not the only criminal with his eyes on it. Add in two coppers desperate to nick Mal's best, only, and admittedly quite dangerous, friend, Jackie Singh Kattar, and Blades Edge is getting pretty crowded. Malachite Jones might not really be able to talk to the dead, but if he and his friend Jackie Singh Kattar can’t find that money and a solution that pleases everyone they’re likely to be in need of a psychic medium themselves. The first Mal Jones and Jackie Singh Kattar adventure: a chaotic rollercoaster ride through a Yorkshire landscape full of double crossing friends, dogged police, psychotic gangster and voices from the other side.


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One dead man and a missing lottery ticket. Two family members who need that money to get away from the rundown Blades Edge estate. Three local gangsters who want that money for themselves. Meet Malachite Jones – the foremost (and only) psychic medium on the gritty Blades Edge estate. All he wants are two things: a name that isn’t ‘Malachite’, and a quiet life. And maybe some One dead man and a missing lottery ticket. Two family members who need that money to get away from the rundown Blades Edge estate. Three local gangsters who want that money for themselves. Meet Malachite Jones – the foremost (and only) psychic medium on the gritty Blades Edge estate. All he wants are two things: a name that isn’t ‘Malachite’, and a quiet life. And maybe some real psychic powers, but he’s making a living without them. Janine Stanbeck wants to find her dead husband Larry’s winning ticket and escape Blades Edge with her son. And she thinks Mal can help her. But Larry’s dad is the crime lord of the estate, and he wants that ticket for himself, and worse for Mal, he's not the only criminal with his eyes on it. Add in two coppers desperate to nick Mal's best, only, and admittedly quite dangerous, friend, Jackie Singh Kattar, and Blades Edge is getting pretty crowded. Malachite Jones might not really be able to talk to the dead, but if he and his friend Jackie Singh Kattar can’t find that money and a solution that pleases everyone they’re likely to be in need of a psychic medium themselves. The first Mal Jones and Jackie Singh Kattar adventure: a chaotic rollercoaster ride through a Yorkshire landscape full of double crossing friends, dogged police, psychotic gangster and voices from the other side.

30 review for A Numbers Game

  1. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A Numbers Game was an enjoyable mystery read that has great emotions and the hallmarks of RJ's humour. RJ Dark is the alter-ego of RJ Barker, who debuted with a stunningly phenomenal but criminally underrated fantasy trilogy, The Wounded Kingdom. I've also read the first book of his sophomore series, The Tide Child, and for the first time ever, absolutely loved a book that was predominantly about ships and seafaring. Safe to say, I' ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A Numbers Game was an enjoyable mystery read that has great emotions and the hallmarks of RJ's humour. RJ Dark is the alter-ego of RJ Barker, who debuted with a stunningly phenomenal but criminally underrated fantasy trilogy, The Wounded Kingdom. I've also read the first book of his sophomore series, The Tide Child, and for the first time ever, absolutely loved a book that was predominantly about ships and seafaring. Safe to say, I've come to trust this Barker guy to write a darn good yarn anytime of the day. So when I found out about his alter-ego writing modern crime mysteries set in his homeland, I naturally jumped at the chance of reading it. While fantasy has and will always be my favourite genre, I've been increasingly drawn to crime mysteries/thrillers of late. And I'm particularly to partial to those written by British authors (thanks to my late discovery of the wonderful Grand Dame of Mystery, Agatha Christie, and of course, Arthur Conan Doyle). Anyway, back to RJ Dark and his debut mystery novel, A Numbers Game. The first thing that hit me as I read this book was that the humour was spot on and thoroughly RJ. I've followed the author on Twitter and also met him in person, and let me tell you that he is a gem. It was little surprise that I found the writing in this gritty modern British mystery setting to be vivid, engaging, funny and yet poignant at times. It was pretty much exactly what I would imagine RJ Barker will sound like writing non-fantasy fiction that pay homage to his roots. I actually thought that the mystery wasn't as interesting as the interplay of the characters in the book. What made this book for me was the friendship between Mal and Jackie. While I liked Mal enough on his own with his self-deprecating, honest internal monologues, the scenes where Jackie was with him were the best parts of the story. The characterisation of Jackie was also more fascinating than Mal, and makes for a most unlikely pairing between the two of them. A trope which I've always loved, especially when combined with the rogue with a heart-of-gold. This will be a relatively short review as I really couldn't say much about the plot save for what was already mentioned in the synopsis. All in all, it was an entertaining read and I think that anyone who enjoys British crime mysteries with some grit and humour will enjoy this book. You can purchase the book from Amazon UK.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Harris

    A Numbers Game introduces (and promises more of?) Malachite ('Mal') Jones and Jackie Singh Khattar. Mal is a bereavement counsellor/ con artist/ cold reader, basically a well-intentioned fraud who comforts those who've lost someone. Jackie is a 'legitimate businessman' who takes protection money and installs security for all the local businesses - all the easier to gain entry afterwards, perhaps. But he seems to have a heart of gold: as well as beating Mal up when they were kids, he systematical A Numbers Game introduces (and promises more of?) Malachite ('Mal') Jones and Jackie Singh Khattar. Mal is a bereavement counsellor/ con artist/ cold reader, basically a well-intentioned fraud who comforts those who've lost someone. Jackie is a 'legitimate businessman' who takes protection money and installs security for all the local businesses - all the easier to gain entry afterwards, perhaps. But he seems to have a heart of gold: as well as beating Mal up when they were kids, he systematically taught him self defence, and before taking money he checks that Mal can afford to eat. The action takes place in and around the Blades Edge estate in Yorkshire, a place on the edge in many ways: scheduled for redevelopment till the money ran out, hosting problem families and grim sink districts as well as some prettier areas whose residents are desperately trying to keep from drowning. There are also crime lords and a school which has managed to claw its way up the rankings. I enjoyed how Dark shows this area in all its contradictions, revealing a fascinating array of opinionated and distinct characters. At heart though this is a crime story. The hinge of the plot, which we are told early on, is a lost lottery ticket connected with a death, and you'd think that where there's a death, there's a mystery. However the actual nature of the crime, indeed the whole point of the mystery, is hidden for some while. What kicks things off is Jackie wanting to help a recently bereaved widow whose husband died holding that ticket. If Mal can find it - whether he has to fake psychic contact with dead Larry or not - then it might help Janine and her son escape the Edge. You'd think that, and £8 million prize money, would be sufficient motivation for any amount of chicanery but actually, no. There is really a lot more happening here. To begin with, Larry's dad was 'Trolley' Mick Stanbeck, the gangster who runs the Edge, and his other two psycho sons, nicknamed the Kray Twins, soon take an interest in Mal, as do a pair of Russian ganstaers. None of them have his long term wellbeing at heart, and nor do DI Harrington and DC Smith. (There's a pattern here - if Mal hears a knock on his door and sees he has two visitors, he'd better watch out). As things escalate, becoming more and more complicated both in terms of what's actually happened and of the depths of the fix Mal is in, Dark heightens the tension by showing where Mal's come from and what Jackie really means to him. The friendship between the two is genuine and it's clear that Mal owes him a lot. What's less clear is exactly how involved Jackie is with the mess they're now in, and whether his protection will be enough to see off the numerous threats, leaving he and Mal both alive and free. Combining an ingenious plot with engaging and down to earth characters, A Numbers Game resists pigeonholing: at times I might be tempted to call it cosy crime, despite the starkly depicted violence, at others it seems too play by noir rules, and the fiendishly complex situation that develops even has echoes of PG Wodehouse though with bullets. I would recommend, and I'll be interested too see what Dark does next. (I notice he's already lifted the antler motif from fellow writer and lord of literary misrule RJ Barker, so really anything is possible now).

  3. 5 out of 5

    G.R. Matthews

    A gritty northern buddy crime novel where the heroes aren't the police or the criminals, but sit somewhere inbetween. A gritty northern buddy crime novel where the heroes aren't the police or the criminals, but sit somewhere inbetween.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Quiraang

    I received an review copy from the publisher. One of the best books I've read this year. I know that this is RJs first venture into mystery/crime novels and it's a terrific debut. Great off the wall characters, dark humour, and a plot that kept me guessing to the end. And set in Yorkshire! Mal and Jackie are two very unlikely friends, indeed when they were at school together they were more like enemies. Mal Jones is a reformed drug addict and alcoholic, who runs a business as a psychic medium. Ja I received an review copy from the publisher. One of the best books I've read this year. I know that this is RJs first venture into mystery/crime novels and it's a terrific debut. Great off the wall characters, dark humour, and a plot that kept me guessing to the end. And set in Yorkshire! Mal and Jackie are two very unlikely friends, indeed when they were at school together they were more like enemies. Mal Jones is a reformed drug addict and alcoholic, who runs a business as a psychic medium. Jackie Singh Khattar is a ex special forces soldier who runs some very dodgy, perhaps criminal, businesses. It's the variety of interactions, at different levels, between Mal and Jackie that make their relationship so interesting and enjoyable. Can't wait for the next book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Queen Terrible Timy

    This review was originially posted on Queen's Book Asylum. Actual rating: 4.5* I received an eARC via Netgalley from the publisher, Wavesback, in exchange of an honest review. ‘Could be wireless?’ He nodded. ‘Could be. Anyway, I got the box plugged in off my friend George, he calls it The Fuckenator.’ ‘What does it do?’ ‘Fuckenates things.’ ‘Thanks.’ Look, it’s not really a secret that I developed a literary crush for RJ Barker‘s writing with The Tide Child series, so when I learned he was publishin This review was originially posted on Queen's Book Asylum. Actual rating: 4.5* I received an eARC via Netgalley from the publisher, Wavesback, in exchange of an honest review. ‘Could be wireless?’ He nodded. ‘Could be. Anyway, I got the box plugged in off my friend George, he calls it The Fuckenator.’ ‘What does it do?’ ‘Fuckenates things.’ ‘Thanks.’ Look, it’s not really a secret that I developed a literary crush for RJ Barker‘s writing with The Tide Child series, so when I learned he was publishing a Mystery/Thriller series under the pen name RJ Dark, I knew I had to get my hands on that too. I’m on a bit of a Fantasy break at the moment and I always loved Mysteries. Plus, I know we happen to have one favorite author in common: C.J. Sansom, who writes historical fiction/murder mysteries. So, this was totally the right book at the right time situation and it did manage to get me out of my reading slump a bit. A Numbers Game tells the story of an investigation after a lost lottery ticket that sets fire to the city as two warring gangs try to get their hands on it. Mal, a con man, and alleged psychic medium finds himself right in the middle of the events as everyone expects him to find the ticket. Luckily for him, he has an old friend, Jackie on his side, otherwise, this investigation wouldn’t have been too long-lived. Amid the chaos, Mal and Jackie do their best to unknot the threads that lead to backstabbing, treachery, and pissed-off psychopathic gang leaders. Welcome to Yorkshire, please mind your fingers as they might get lost. The Good Setting & worldbuilding: I’m totally partial to books set in the UK (and London), and Yorkshire as a background for Mal and Jackie’s investigation worked perfectly. Maaaybe I would have liked a bit more sense about the city itself, but I loved the details about the Blades Edge, where the bigger part of the novel is set. The rundown estate, the forest surrounding the place, the inner city locations, it all perfectly gave back this creepy, ominous feeling you have while reading/watching thrillers or real crim docu shows. Paired with RJ Dark‘s writing and skillful characterization, I felt right there as I was reading. Writing and pacing: A Numbers Game is a relatively short book with less than 300 pages and events are happening within a week, so it’s fair to say that it’s pretty fast-paced. There is plenty of action, the characters are constantly moving – or at least seems like it – but it doesn’t feel too much. You don’t feel rushed or that things are happening too fast. It’s perfectly balanced with dialogues and quiet moments where we can get to know the characters better. Characters: Talking of. I loved Mal and Jackie’s pair. Their friendship which I suspect has way more depth than it was shown within these pages. Honestly, I wanted more. I liked Mal from the first moment but it took me a while to get around to Jackie. And I’m still not quite sure I pinned down his personality. Where RJ Dark‘s writing really shines is in the side characters. In the first 20% or so all these people keep coming and normally it would be a bit hard to keep track, but they are all so indistinctive that it’s absolutely not an issue. Be it Trolley Mick, Russian Frank, Beryl (oh, Beryl, she is definitely something!), or Janine just to name a few. Most of the characters aren’t nice people and it’s still a joy to follow them on the paper – or screen. ‘I am going to break every one of your fucking fingers, lad,’ Billy said. I had no reason to doubt him, and the thought of it made me feel like throwing up. Maybe if I vomited on him, it would scare him away. I’d heard that worked for seagulls. Plot: Well, obviously, I’m not going to talk about this too much, but A Numbers Game has a nice few twists that’ll keep you guessing until the end. The base conflict is pretty simple – dead man, lost lottery ticket, everyone wants it for their own reasons. I had my suspicions along the way, but I was pleased that it managed to surprise me, and really, what else can you ask for when it comes to a mystery? The Bad Dialogue: So, this is a minor thing, but I have this pet peeve of mine… It drives me crazy when characters name each other constantly in dialogue. I seem to have this issue mostly with British authors though, or so I noticed. It’s not such a bad thing per se, but it always takes me off the flow after a while. Length: It was just way too damn short. And The (Ugly) Truth A Numbers Game came to me in a time when I literally craved to read a Mystery/Thriller novel, and it definitely filled up that hole. It reminded me why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. And it left me craving more. A Numbers Game has everything you can ask for: great characters just short of walking off the pages, twists, treachery, a murder mystery, fast cars, and a good dose of blood and pain just to make it interesting. A book that gives just as much joy to the reader as it gave to its author, because it’s pretty obvious from the first page, that RJ Dark had one hell of a time writing A Numbers Game and that comes through loud and clear. Impossible not to be swept away by Mal and the whole atmosphere. A Numbers Game is a must read for every Mystery/Thriller fan. It should be illegal for someone to be so damned talented as RJ Barker/Dark is.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ariana

    Thank you to NetGalley and Wavesback for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. This is an explosive (sometimes literally) crime debut by RJ Dark – also known as RJ Barker, who I feel like I mention every other blog post because his books are incredible… anyway, where was I? Oh yes, A Numbers Game by RJ Dark is the first ‘Mal & Jackie’ novel, and I, for one, cannot wait for the next one. Going into it, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d find it, because when I read crime I tend to like it a bit Thank you to NetGalley and Wavesback for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. This is an explosive (sometimes literally) crime debut by RJ Dark – also known as RJ Barker, who I feel like I mention every other blog post because his books are incredible… anyway, where was I? Oh yes, A Numbers Game by RJ Dark is the first ‘Mal & Jackie’ novel, and I, for one, cannot wait for the next one. Going into it, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d find it, because when I read crime I tend to like it a bit cosier, and I was worried some of the references might go over my head. I needn’t have worried though. With the first page, I was sucked in. Mal and Jackie feel as if they step right off the page and into your room, I felt as if I was watching them rather than reading about them. I usually take notes as I read books, especially when I know I’ll be reviewing them, but for A Numbers Game I just let the story carry me forward, fascinated by it all. As you might have read in the blurb, the premise of the story is that Larry Stanbeck, son of the biggest gangster on the estate, has died in a motorbike accident, and the lottery ticket he had won but not cashed in went missing. His wife wants to find it to get her and her son out of Blade’s Edge, and Larry’s father Mick wants the money for his operations. Add to that the Russian mafia and the police trying to frame someone for increasing violence, and poor Mal can’t go two steps outside his house without someone threatening him. Mal – aka Malachite Jones (but please don’t call him that) – is a psychic medium who provides comfort to his clients by telling them what they need to hear about their deceased loved ones. He’s a really interesting character, with a solid quietness to him. He’s the point of view character, and I think he’s the perfect viewpoint into the world of Blade’s Edge, as he grew up there and is a product of it, but has distanced himself somewhat from it. Jackie is the loud to Mal’s quiet – boisterous, always wearing extremely colourful outfits, driving expensive cars. He’s an ex-army man with his fingers in many different pies, and he provides protection for Mal’s neighbourhood, for a fee. For all his violent impulses and strong will, Jackie is kind, and complex. I can’t wait to see their next adventure. What I really enjoyed about the story, apart from the vivid characters and gritty humour, was the puzzle. Seems a bit obvious, for a crime book, but some mysteries are more satisfying to unravel than others, and I have to say this one was a treat. As the reader, I felt very much like Mal for most of the book, as he scrabbles to make sense of all the disparate threads he’s uncovered, trying to see a bigger picture, and towards the end there was one twist I definitely didn’t see coming, and one that I had anticipated, and both were very satisfying to read. I can’t recommend A Numbers Game enough, it’s a fun ride, and a quick read (unless, like me, you’re reading it during a house-move). Dark’s style of writing is simple, yet full of little bursts of sentences that gave me pause; this, combined with the excellent character work, compelling mystery, and fast-paced feel made me sprint through it, picking it up whenever I had a spare moment to see what would happen. Truly excellent!

  7. 5 out of 5

    FantasyBookNerd

    Shameless meets gritty gangland noir in RJ Dark's story of the criminal underbelly in the Wilds of a Yorkshire council estate. 'A Numbers Game' is the first book in a new Northern Noir series written by RJ Dark, the once underground musician and club promoter, who now spends his life tottering around his ancient mansion. If you have seen interviews with RJ Dark, you will be familiar with the fact that most his personal reading revolved around crime novels that he got from local second hand shops Shameless meets gritty gangland noir in RJ Dark's story of the criminal underbelly in the Wilds of a Yorkshire council estate. 'A Numbers Game' is the first book in a new Northern Noir series written by RJ Dark, the once underground musician and club promoter, who now spends his life tottering around his ancient mansion. If you have seen interviews with RJ Dark, you will be familiar with the fact that most his personal reading revolved around crime novels that he got from local second hand shops and that this is the type of fiction that he gravitates towards, and I have to say that I enjoyed his inaugural foray into a fictional Yorkshire gangland immensely. It seems that whatever RJ Dark writes, he spins pure gold. Now, let's get to 'A Numbers Game'. The story is based around our two main characters, Malachite Jones, or Mal as he prefers to be called, and Jackie Singh Khattar. A borderline sociopath, with a rigid ethical code and a heart of gold at his core. On top of that, there is a whole host of characters that provide a depth to the story. There's 'Trolley' Mick Stanbeck. The main gangster of the piece, who whilst being an absolute brutal shit of a man who rules the Blades Edge with an iron rod of fear, he also has a penchance to look after his family. Alongside Trolley Mick,.there's 'Russian' Frank. The other antagonist of the story who Mal and Jackie come into contact with when they are tasked to find a missing lottery ticket that is worth 8 million pounds and everyone thinks they have a stake in. As I said earlier, the story revolves around Mal and Jackie. Mal is a medium/conman who communes with the dead. Well, not really, as most of his work is pretty much a community service that he does for various people around the infamous Blades Edge Estate, a council estate in an unnamed town in Yorkshire. Whilst Jackie is a 'legitimate businessman' who works a small time protection racket in the local area. After the death of Lawrence 'Larry' Stanbeck, Mal is visited by his widow (a job set up by Jackie) to find a missing lottery ticket that could, if you will pardon the pun, be her ticket off the Blades Edge Estate. As the search for the missing lottery ticket ensues, the danger to Mal and Jackie increases as the stakes become higher and higher. I absolutely adored the mismatched pairing of Mal and Jackie. Mal has a past, and one that he struggles with everyday, whilst for some reason, the local school bully, now medium sized hardman, Jackie looks after him like a mother hen. Always magically turning up whenever he is in trouble. One of RJ Dark's skills (amongst many) is that he writes utterly compelling characters that you cannot help falling in love with. And 'A Numbers Game' is packed full of them. As well as the main ones that I talked about earlier there is a plethora of supporting characters that are both comedic and relatable. For instance, there's Mal's assistant, Beryl, who is an overbearing she bitch with mysterious talents, who yet again, looks out for Mal and has his best interests at heart, even though he drinks coffee. And then there's Mick Stanbeck's twins (named 'The Kray Twins, but don't call them that to their face) who only have one brain cell between the both of them and carry a dictionary in their back pocket so that they can 'better' themselves. Like their dad told them they should! For me, one of the standout aspects of this book is that it is filled with utter warmth towards the characters and to the world that Mal & Jackie live in. Whilst, Dark pokes fun at the council estate mentality and it's inhabitants, there is never any spite towards them. Yes, at times he can make some cutting observations about life on a council estate, yet you always get the impression that he is willing to forgive the characters their faults. As well as this, the book is full of RJ Dark's unnerring silliness, which at times sails very close to being pythonesque parody, and had me laughing out loud on a number of occasions, but he pulls it back enough to maintain the reality of the situation, and the jeopardy of lead characters situation. However, don't think that the book is all comedy and innocent tomfoolery, because it's not. It goes to some pretty dark places at times and there is plenty of violence in there. And, the inclusion of this violence serves to increase the sense of danger that face our heroes and gives a palpable feeling of menace to the various gangsters that are present in this book. As this is a crime thriller, we have to mention the plot. Yep it's twisty and turny and keeps you guessing right to the very end. That's what you expect right! You don't want a plot that goes from A to B in a straight line. You expect that it will take a detour to b,c & d and back again, and in this Dark does not disappoint, but the main point is that the end is believable.and that it ends in a way that does not bring in inexplicable plot revelations. If you haven't got it yet, I enjoyed this Northern Noir crime caper with its inimatbale sense of fun and warmth, I think it is up there as my favourite RJ Dark (but don't tell that Barker bloke) novel and I cannot wait to see what Mal & Jackie get embroiled in next? Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to review 'A Number's Game'. The enjoyment was all my own! Welcome to the Dark side!

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Derek

    A Numbers Game by RJ Dark When one of the Notorious Stanbeck family members dies in a motorcycle accident, leaving an unclaimed but hidden 8 million pound lottery ticket behind, little did he know the mayhem he would cause? Family members need that money to get away from the run-down Blades Edge estate, and also some local gangsters want that money for themselves. All of these people plus hangers-on are looking for that ticket. And so here we meet the main protagonist, Malachite Jones – the only ps A Numbers Game by RJ Dark When one of the Notorious Stanbeck family members dies in a motorcycle accident, leaving an unclaimed but hidden 8 million pound lottery ticket behind, little did he know the mayhem he would cause? Family members need that money to get away from the run-down Blades Edge estate, and also some local gangsters want that money for themselves. All of these people plus hangers-on are looking for that ticket. And so here we meet the main protagonist, Malachite Jones – the only psychic medium (allegedly) on the Blades Edge estate. He is bullied, threatened and charmed into helping various parties find the ticket. Unfortunately, he hasn’t got a clue where to start, and his psychic abilities are somewhat exaggerated. But at least he has his friend Jackie Singh Kattar on his side. A Numbers Game is a gritty, no-nonsense mystery crime thriller. It gives a realistic portrayal of life on a run-down estate in Yorkshire. Brutal at times, but then anyone, who has lived on a similar housing estate, will know how close to the edit the book is. It is one of those books where you have to keep reminding yourself that this is a work of fiction. There is much to like about this book. The characters are quirky, weird and slightly deranged. The plot has twists and turns that keep you guessing. And the novel is down to earth with people you can relate to. Many supporting characters within The Numbers Game have a true-to-life feel about them. Mal and Jackie are like chalk and cheese, but they gel and seem to bond when necessary. Jackie is Mal’s guardian angel, most of the time at least. I want to mention more, but I don’t want to give away spoilers. A Numbers Game is a bit pedestrian, to begin with, but it soon livens up. Once the pace starts to increases, then the action intensifies. Like I said earlier, it can be violent in places. There is a lot of dark humour in the book, and maybe you will need to of a certain age or on the author's wavelength to understand it, but I did find myself laughing out loud in places. A Numbers Game is a great read, a solid British thriller. Once you start reading A Number Game, I think you will have a struggle putting it down. Thanks to NetGalley and Wavesback for the digital of this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jack Bates

    A fun crime novel with snappy dialogue, a Yorkshire setting and a pleasingly oddball pairing - Mal Jones, 'psychic medium' and Jackie Singh Kattar, Sikh criminal wunderkind. The went to school together and although they were definitely not mates back then, they are now. Larry Stanbeck, less scary son of the scary local crimelord, is dead, and his winning lottery ticket is missing. His (not) grieving widow, his dad, the local Russian (or Ukrainian) mob are all keen to get their hands on it. Jackie A fun crime novel with snappy dialogue, a Yorkshire setting and a pleasingly oddball pairing - Mal Jones, 'psychic medium' and Jackie Singh Kattar, Sikh criminal wunderkind. The went to school together and although they were definitely not mates back then, they are now. Larry Stanbeck, less scary son of the scary local crimelord, is dead, and his winning lottery ticket is missing. His (not) grieving widow, his dad, the local Russian (or Ukrainian) mob are all keen to get their hands on it. Jackie gets Mal involved and it frequently looks like it might get nasty. This is very different from RJ's usual work but just as entertaining.

  10. 5 out of 5

    DR DAVID R FRENCH

    Genuine page-turner with engaging characters - great holiday read Fast-paced, empathetic characters, atmosphere, humour. Rare treat to get all of the above. Shades of Hugh Laurie's 'The Gunseller', with an unconventional but still relatable narrator. Malachite's self-depracation lending humour, but not at the expense of drama and emotion. Real page-turner. Looking forward to seeing more of them. Genuine page-turner with engaging characters - great holiday read Fast-paced, empathetic characters, atmosphere, humour. Rare treat to get all of the above. Shades of Hugh Laurie's 'The Gunseller', with an unconventional but still relatable narrator. Malachite's self-depracation lending humour, but not at the expense of drama and emotion. Real page-turner. Looking forward to seeing more of them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Simon Holland

    Dead good The mug had antlers on it, now that's a clue. Even if the name wasn't. A Yorkshire based crime story with a hint of strangeness, read it you'll enjoy it. Dead good The mug had antlers on it, now that's a clue. Even if the name wasn't. A Yorkshire based crime story with a hint of strangeness, read it you'll enjoy it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    A fun crime thriller with a memorable cast of larger-than-life characters and a vividly drawn Yorkshire setting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Evans

    Loved this gritty crime story. Full review here https://allopinionsarenotequal.wordpr... Loved this gritty crime story. Full review here https://allopinionsarenotequal.wordpr...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adela

    This start of a new series was really enjoyable. If you liked early Brookmyre this has a similar feeling, great cast of characters, violence and a really strong sense of setting. RJ Barker needs to watch out, his evil twin is pretty good!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex Jones

    The debut crime thriller from RJ Dark introduces Mal and Jackie, a mismatched pair to say the least. Mal, is a practising medium - problem is he can’t talk to the dead because he’s a fake, and there is Jackie, an Asian Gentleman.... The duo find themselves caught up in a deviously plotted story that brings them upon a search for a missing lottery ticket, murder, local gangsters and snappy police. The book is riddled with smirk inducing humour throughout, as well as a little bit of brutal violence The debut crime thriller from RJ Dark introduces Mal and Jackie, a mismatched pair to say the least. Mal, is a practising medium - problem is he can’t talk to the dead because he’s a fake, and there is Jackie, an Asian Gentleman.... The duo find themselves caught up in a deviously plotted story that brings them upon a search for a missing lottery ticket, murder, local gangsters and snappy police. The book is riddled with smirk inducing humour throughout, as well as a little bit of brutal violence but nothing gratuitous. A crime thriller with serious undertones, it’s actually very funny, and completely enjoyable. The suggestion is there is more to come from this affable yet completely opposite duo. And I hope there is and it’s really very brilliant.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alicia White

    RJ Dark's first crime novel is a real rollercoaster ride. What's it about? "A Numbers Game" introduces us to Malachite Jones—he prefers to be called Mal, but who wouldn't with a name like that? Mal is the only physic medium in the roughest council estate in Yorkshire, England. Mal's best friend, Jackie, is a very dangerous man who somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the cops and his competition in the mob. The story starts when a grieving widow hires Mal to find a winning lottery ticket wor RJ Dark's first crime novel is a real rollercoaster ride. What's it about? "A Numbers Game" introduces us to Malachite Jones—he prefers to be called Mal, but who wouldn't with a name like that? Mal is the only physic medium in the roughest council estate in Yorkshire, England. Mal's best friend, Jackie, is a very dangerous man who somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the cops and his competition in the mob. The story starts when a grieving widow hires Mal to find a winning lottery ticket worth ₤8 million that belonged to her dead husband, Larry. Finding a lost lottery ticket shouldn't be too hard for a guy who can speak to the dead, right? So, what's the problem? The problem is that Mal is neither a physic nor a medium. Which is unfortunate for him because he could *really* use some psychic powers when it turns out that Larry's father is the local mob boss who wants Mal to give *him* that ticket. Failure to find the ticket is not an option. So, it's a race to find the ticket before the cops, or the mob, catch up to Mal and Jackie. What I liked about it? I read somewhere that the most popular books are ones that have characters that we like and care about. Those are the books we stay up reading until the wee hours of the morning to find out what happens next. Mal is one of those characters for me. I liked Mal. A LOT. I had a hard time putting this book down even to take care of essentials like eating and sleeping. I look forward to reading the next novel in the "Mal and Jackie" series. And, more than anything else, it was fun! What I didn't like about it? A bit of a warning for readers from the US: the British slang & terminology was a bit heavy. I had to search the internet several times to look up terms so I could understand what they were talking about. But that was a minor annoyance for me and one that won't impact readers from the UK. The first half of the book was a bit slow, it was a bit like a British police procedural show. The action really picked up in the second half, though, and it really kept me on the edge of my seat towards the end! Overall Impression/Recommendation: I really liked Mal & Jackie and I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop for them in the next book (I hope there is one!). It's a quirky & funny mystery novel. I usually read fantasy (mostly urban fantasy) so this book was a great change of pace for me. Even though it's not my usual genre, I still give this book a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 (rounding up to 5) for having a great mystery and such great characters. If you like quirky, off the wall mysteries with a diverse cast of characters, there's a ton to like in this book. I recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    A J ALLEN

    Very enjoyable murder mystery Really enjoyed this murder mystery and can't wait for the next in the series to see how these fascinating characters develop. Gritty but stylish. Recommend Very enjoyable murder mystery Really enjoyed this murder mystery and can't wait for the next in the series to see how these fascinating characters develop. Gritty but stylish. Recommend

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  19. 5 out of 5

    Unspeakagirl

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phil On The Hill

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Palfreyman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Sibun

  25. 5 out of 5

    Juliano Dutra

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pete Windle

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maegwin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jackson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim Tofton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Su

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