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Reviewed by Christopher Solaas for Readers' Favorite
In the near future, most of the world is plugged into the virtual worlds created in the Metaverse. The realism in these games blurs the line between fantasy and reality and in these games, players can indulge their darkest desires. Parker Reid is the FBI’s top profiler and has been tasked with catching another monster – a serial killer who is beheading his victims with a sword. Shea Britton plays an almost invincible elf named Darshana in an online VR game. A new player has shown up, a monster that appears to have hacked the system to make himself invulnerable and untraceable. In Red Screen by Daniel Burke, these two worlds collide as Parker follows clues that lead him to the Metaverse, following the monster whose next victim might not only be Darshana but Shea as well.
Red Screen by Daniel Burke is a gripping thriller, with edge-of-the-seat action from cover to cover. The world-building of the Metaverse, and the Land of Might and Magic, where much of the action takes place, is immersive and breathtaking. Character interactions both in and out of the Metaverse are realistic and carry the story forward well. I was impressed with the author’s grasp of online gaming and the demands of presenting that much data to that many players online. The technical details of the storage and tracing of these interactions were a critical plot point and did not get in the way of the story at all. The novel seamlessly mixed the world of forensics with the world of online VR gaming. This was a book I simply could not put down until the final and satisfying conclusion.