Today, we have an excerpt from a novel I’m really looking forward to reading: Åsa Avdic‘s The Dying Game. Published in the UK by Windmill Books, here’s the synopsis:
‘Oh, it’s really quite simple. I want you to play dead.’
On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?
But as soon as Anna steps on to the island she realises something isn’t quite right. And then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins…
THE DYING GAME
by Åsa Avdic
The Chairman waved toward the chairs at the round table, and as I took a seat he walked around the table and sat down across from me.
“First off, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your fantastic efforts in Kyzyl Kum. Splendid, simply splendid,” he said with such emphasis that I wondered if our conversation was being recorded. He went on: “I hope you know how pleased we are with your work. The Minister sends greetings as well. Delighted ones, of course. We haven’t had such a good reputation for many years. A humanitarian super-power and all of that. Just what the doctor ordered; we all think so. And of course we’re glad to have been able to support you in your very, very important work, Anna.”
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” I heard myself saying, while at the same time I realized that this wasn’t getting off to the best start for me. We were only a few minutes into our meeting and the Chairman had already gotten me to thank him for the opportunity to thoroughly destroy myself and my life for several years. He was clearly very clever. I started to wonder why I was really there. He leaned across the table.
“Anna, what I want to talk to you about is strictly confidential. What I am about to say must under no circumstances go beyond you and me.”
He looked me straight in the eye as if to verify that I truly understood what he was saying. I did. I had spent enough time with the junta and the military in Kyzyl Kum to know that this meant, If anything gets out, we’ll know you are the leak, so I nodded. Yes, I understood. He went on. “Anna, have you heard of the RAN project?”
I nodded again, feeling even more ill at ease. The RAN project was one of those projects everyone had heard about, but no one really knew what it was. Judging by the massive web of secrecy surrounding it, it also wasn’t the sort of thing you wanted to know about. One time in Kyzyl Kum, one of the soldiers had mentioned a case that had been taken on by the RAN group, but when I started asking follow-up questions he just looked troubled, maybe even scared, and changed the subject, so I let it go. There are some kinds of knowledge you don’t necessarily want to be privy to.