Matt Forbeck has wrapped up his Dangerous Games Trilogy with How To Win, the final book in his his series that takes place at GenCon. If you’ve not yet read the first two books in the series, you can read my reviews of each by clicking on the following links for How to Play (Book 1) and How to Cheat.
If you’re wanting to be kept completely in the dark about what the final book, How to Win, is all about, stop reading now.
Okay, if you’re still reading, just a heads up that there will be some minor spoilers ahead for Books 1 and 2 but no promises for Book 3. It will be difficult to provide readers with a decent review without discussing some of the major plot points. Consider yourself warned.
Once again, Liam Parker finds himself heading to GenCon, but this time he’s working as a full-time employee, heading up security and working with the GenCon staff to try and make the convention safer than it’s been over the previous two years. Books 1 and 2 put Liam right in the thick of things, dealing with murders at the famous gaming convention. In both books, the murders were either directly or indirectly tied to gaming publisher, Tollak Spielmacher, and the man has now been sitting in jail for a year awaiting trial. To say that Tollak has a deep hatred for Liam is an understatement; the prisoner blames Liam for everything, including for saving him from a quick death back in Book 2.
All of this hatred is about to reach the boiling point as the trial begins just as GenCon is up and rolling. Tollak has been plotting, and he’s got something special in store for GenCon, the event he now despises and sees as the origination point for his downfall. And given Liam’s position as head of security, Tollak sees a chance to kill two birds with one stone — destroy GenCon and Liam in one fell swoop.
If you’ve read my previous reviews of Books 1 and 2, you may remember that Matt hinted at the storyline of Book 3 as “Die Hard meets GenCon.” Well, Matt wasn’t kidding around. The body count for Book 3 is much higher than the first two books, and the violence is much more shocking. This isn’t a book for young kids heading off to their first GenCon experience, okay? It’s violent… horrifying… vengeful. And totally entertaining as you keep reminding yourself that it’s only a story… it’s only a story… GenCon is safe… GenCon is fun.
It’s obvious that Matt’s had a lot of fun writing these stories. He’s so familiar with GenCon and its history, secrets, and special events, and he manages to drop them into one or all of the books to add a real sense of being there. Quite a few tweets that I’ve read over the last few months were from readers saying that they’re certainly glad GenCon isn’t anything like Matt’s written into his Dangerous Games stories. Amen to that!
How To Win is a great wrap-up to the trilogy that began with Liam heading to GenCon to try and get his Mojo Poker game published. Readers have followed along as this police trainee moved from solving his first murder to outwitting a pair of hit men to dealing with a major hostage situation and a psychotic who really has nothing left to lose.
I have absolutely no doubt that the Dangerous Games story and maybe even Liam Parker will somehow become a part of the real-life GenCon… Matt’s done a nice job of bringing GenCon’s spirit and fun to many of us who have yet to be able to attend. I’m crossing my fingers to make it next year, and I’m certainly hoping the four days go by without any incidents. I’ll leave the murder and mayhem at GenCon to Matt’s imagination and look forward to some good times and memories.
Be sure to visit Matt’s website for information on where to purchase any or all of the books, including the Omnibus.
Note: Thanks go to Matt for providing me an advanced copy of How To Win.