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5.0 out of 5 stars Destined for the big screen? Let's hope!
Every great once in a while I come across a book meant for the big screen. _The Zero Game_ has what it takes - action, suspense, compelling characters, and best of all, an exceptional plot packed with some striking, fascinating twists.
Matthew and Harris have been friends since college. The friendship is strong, even though the two are opposite in personalities:...
Published on June 4 2004 by Brenda

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3.0 out of 5 stars Meltzer Fan Disappointed
I must agree with the reviewer drgoldstein2. I too, am a long-time Meltzer follower and fan and I was seriously disappointed in this book. As others have said, I had eagerly anticipated this book due to the description. And if that had been the book which had been written, I probably would have loved it, but it wasn't. I would have like to have seen more about "The...
Published on March 22 2004 by Laura A. Rustin


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4.0 out of 5 stars Capital Fun at a Thrill a Minute, July 1 2004
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
When I first started listening to this novel on unabridged audio cassette, I admit to being confused and having to rewind the first 45 minutes in order to listen to the opening sequence a second time. But after this bout of fuzzy thinking, the fast pace and non-stop excitement narrated in the intelligent and frat boy confident voice of Washington staffer Harris Sandler. moved me along at breakneck speed, unraveling a mystery as labyrinthine as the old gold mine in one of the novel's most exciting sequences. Bored to an unhealthy cynicism with the Washington CYA scene of political manuevering, Harris and his best bud Matthew have spiced up their otherwise mundane careers by doing the unethical: gambling on Congress in a little wagering fun known only by a select few as the Zero Game. Very early on in the novel, the sure thing turns bad, and Harris finds himself in an unthinkable position: on the run for his life from a maniacal assasin with a black box tool that simulates a heart attack when used on its intended victim, with 17 year old Viv Parker, a senate page from Michigan as his only ally.

As Harris and Viv weave from DC to South Dakota and back attempting to uncover the secret of the Zero Game, the reader unearths vital information about the smooth and clever Harris Sandler whose pin-striped perfection hides a disillusioned knight unhorsed by over ten years of back-stabbing DC wheeling and dealing. The innocent, idealistic and religious Viv plays the light to his shadow and together they make a wonderfully precocious and unforgettable team.

The denouement is not predictable, the science interesting, the Washington insider scenes informative and the thrills lasting until the epilogue. If listening to the audio performance, Scott Brick does a more than admirable job of depicting Harris' fallen angel personality; his Viv is brilliantly bright-eyed and wholesomely winsome.

At the end, the two protagonists part ways, but I would like to see these two reunited in the future, say 10 or 15 years down the road; perhaps difficult for the author to envision a future political climate, but fun nevertheless to imagine what could happen to these two down the road.

I recommend this book highly to all those who like a little espionage with a domestic rather than Ludlem-esque international flavor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Destined for the big screen? Let's hope!, June 4 2004
This review is from: The Zero Game (Audio Cassette)
Every great once in a while I come across a book meant for the big screen. _The Zero Game_ has what it takes - action, suspense, compelling characters, and best of all, an exceptional plot packed with some striking, fascinating twists.
Matthew and Harris have been friends since college. The friendship is strong, even though the two are opposite in personalities: Matthew is a follower, whereas Harris, the son of a barber, is a born leader with the gift of gab. These two senior staffers have some humorous stories to share, but the most interesting Harris has saved for the right moment. Matthew is bored and dissatisfied by his job. Harris tells him about the Zero Game and talks him into joining him. Each person is allowed to invite only one other person. No one is allowed to know who is leading the bet or those joining in on the bet. It's as blind as betting can get. The subject of betting is whether or not one can get an unusual piece of Legislation passed. Matthew gets carried away with one particular bet, and changes the game into a life and death situation. Matthew and Harris are trapped in the game and eventually drag a young African-American Senate page into the danger after her name badge is found at a crime scene. This gal is one tough cookie and she steals the show.
The first four chapters set up the story and some may find them a bit slow, but trust me, once it is over, it all becomes clear. I listened to _The Zero Game_ while working. Needless to say, I gave up because the further I got into the storyline the more I automatically stopped to listen.
_The Zero Game_ has the kind of heart-stopping suspense that takes your breath away.
Kudos to the reader, Scott Brick, for a suspenseful listen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Layers of suspense and thriller intrigue, May 24 2004
By 
Jules Brenner "~ Critical Mystery Tour" (Hollywood, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
After his taut mystery thrillers, The Millionaires and The First Counsel, Brad Meltzer again takes you by the throat for a game and a chase through the corridors of the U.S. Congress for a new and original take on how human weakness can affect the governance of our nation and allow it to become an unwilling provider for a treasonous operation. If you don't get caught up in the drama (but you will), you'll come away from this read with an insight into how congressional staffers negotiate appropriations for bills. It's our money, so it pays to have some idea.
The weakness is in being a sucker for an insider's game -- a secret game for the privileged. Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler his mentor who helped him get on Congressman Nelson Cordell's staff and in on the game, are players. It's a secret game that gives you a sense of importance because you don't know who else is playing. the object is to get unsuspecting legislators to do or say specific things, or guess the final tally on a vote. The stakes are based on a preceding round of betting and, so far, the stakes have been little more than dinner money. On a staffer's salary, the risk has been comfortable, but, the greater accomplishment of winning is to establish yourself as a true power broker in Washington.
To win the latest Zero Game, Matthew has to insert his Congressman's land sale project into the Interior House Appropriations bill, which has to do with the transfer of land rights for a closed gold mine in South Dakota, little more than the usual pork and a simple matter for him to do. He can taste victory and wavers only when the bet rises to a couple of thousand dollars. Greed and the intoxication of a sure thing drives him to ignore the fact that a loss could put him in the poor house. He inserts the project into the bill and, shortly thereafter, is murdered.
Harris is devastated, but he also realizes that his friend's fate can't be unrelated to the game. Drawing in the unwilling help of Viv, a 16-year old, black, female page whose access around the Capitol is as unnoticed as it is unlimited, he sets out to investigate a case his superiors are suggesting was just an accident. It doesn't take long to realize that his efforts have made him and Viv targets for attack by Janos, an arch, relentless hitman who's working for the influential lobbyist pulling all the strings.
This is high adventure in high places, with layers of unpredictable developments in a dense plot of international intrigue. Highly recommended for the mystery thriller reader who will happily fall into its trap of suspense in a completely new set of circumstances and locales.
(Review will appear in NoHo>LA, a Los Angeles newspaper)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Layers of suspense and thriller intrigue, May 24 2004
By 
Jules Brenner "~ Critical Mystery Tour" (Hollywood, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
After his taut mystery thrillers, The Millionaires and The First Counsel, Brad Meltzer again takes you by the throat for a game and a chase through the corridors of the U.S. Congress for a new and original take on how human weakness can affect the governance of our nation and allow it to become an unwilling provider for a treasonous operation. If you don't get caught up in the drama (but you will), you'll come away from this read with an insight into how congressional staffers negotiate appropriations for bills. It's our money, so it pays to have some idea.
The weakness is in being a sucker for an insider's game -- a secret game for the privileged. Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler his mentor who helped him get on Congressman Nelson Cordell's staff and in on the game, are players. It's a secret game that gives you a sense of importance because you don't know who else in Washington might be playing. The object is to bet on such things as getting unsuspecting legislators to do or say specific things, or guess the final tally on a vote. The stakes are based on a preceding round of betting and, so far, the it's been little more than dinner money, but the real payoff is establishing yourself as a true power broker in Washington.
To win the latest Zero Game, Matthew has to insert his Congressman's land sale project into the Interior House Appropriations bill, which has to do with the transfer of land rights for a closed gold mine in South Dakota, little more than the usual pork and a simple matter for him to do. He can taste victory and wavers only when the bet rises to a couple of thousand dollars. Greed and the intoxication of a sure thing drives him to ignore the fact that a loss could put him in the poor house. He inserts the project into the bill and, shortly thereafter, is murdered.
Harris is devastated, but he also realizes that his friend's fate can't be unrelated to the game. Drawing in the unwilling help of Viv, a 16-year old, black, female page whose access around the Capitol is as unnoticed as it is unlimited, he sets out to investigate a case his superiors are suggesting was just an accident. It doesn't take long to realize that his efforts have made him and Viv targets for attack by Janos, an arch, relentless hitman who's working for the influential lobbyist pulling all the strings.
This is high adventure in high places, with layers of unpredictable developments in a dense plot of international intrigue. Highly recommended for the mystery thriller reader who will happily fall into its trap of suspense in a completely new set of circumstances and locales.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, May 11 2004
By 
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
This is my first Meltzer novel, I believe. I also believe it will be my last. It begins with a mildly interesting tour of the arcana that may fill the lives of Congressional staffers.
The initial premise is the "Zero Game," a game played by a group organized into cells. You know only one person above you who invites you into the game and one person below whom you can invite to join.
The game turns deadly and serious. (I don't like to give plot details because I think it can interfere with the enjoyment of the novel.
In competent hands the premise so far could have led to a satisfying thriller. Meltzer, apparently, lacks the competence to accomplish this. He has one of the protagonists, a Senate staffer around 30 teaming with a 17 year old African-American woman . . . and from that point on, the story is just plain silly. And slow. And impossible to believe.
Some authors, particularly Clive Cussler, can present the reader with utterly unbelievable characters, plots and situations and by sheer force of words, induce the reader to suspend credulity.
Meltzer can't do this and the result is a slow, unpleasant and unsatisfying experience.
Jerry
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5.0 out of 5 stars ENTHRALLING, ENTERTAINING LISTENING, April 19 2004
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Zero Game (Audio Cassette)
Audie and Earphone Award winner Scott Brick is one of the most versatile and accomplished voice performers to be found. He has recorded more than 150 books for Time Warner; this breadth of experience comes to the fore in readings that tend to become even better than the last.
Brad Meltzer, with a string of bestsellers to his credit, now draws upon his time as an intern on Capitol Hill to lend authenticity and detail to "The Zero Game."
Matthew Mercer has decided he may want to leave his job as a high paid staffer in our country's corridors of power. Rather than lose a buddy his best friend, Harris Sandler, invites him to join in an intriguing game - it's a game no one knows about, least of all their important bosses. Bets are made on the outcome of proposed legislation.
Sound like fun? Perhaps, until someone is murdered. The pair have uncorked more than trouble. Now, someone is out to kill them. They have no one to help nor anyone they can trust save for a 16-year-old Senate page.
Scott Brick's readings on the Abridged CD version and the Unabridged Audio Cassette edition will both enthrall and entertain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ENTHRALLING AND ENTERTAINING LISTENING, April 19 2004
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Zero Game (Audio Cassette)
Audie and Earphone Award winner Scott Brick is one of the most versatile and accomplished voice performers to be found. He has recorded more than 150 books for Time Warner; this breadth of experience comes to the fore in readings that tend to become even better than the last.
Brad Meltzer, with a string of bestsellers to his credit, now draws upon his time as an intern on Capitol Hill to lend authenticity and detail to "The Zero Game."
Matthew Mercer has decided he may want to leave his job as a high paid staffer in our country's corridors of power. Rather than lose a buddy his best friend, Harris Sandler, invites him to join in an intriguing game - it's a game no one knows about, least of all their important bosses. Bets are made on the outcome of proposed legislation.
Sound like fun? Perhaps, until someone is murdered. The pair have uncorked more than trouble. Now, someone is out to kill them. They have no one to help nor anyone they can trust save for a 16-year-old Senate page.
Scott Brick's readings on the Abridged CD version and the Unabridged Audio Cassette edition will both enthrall and entertain.
- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another fastpaced story from Meltzer, April 4 2004
By 
T. A Kelley "kelleyt" (pueblo, colorado United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
Matthew Mercer has been working in politics in Washington D.C. for the last eight years for a congressman but the job is getting old not much fun any more and he is ready to call an end to this career. Now Harris Sandler is works on Senate side of congress and happens to be Matthews mentor and friend since Matthews freshman year in college.Harris changes Matthews mind when he introduces Matthew to a new game that seems perfectly harmless.
The idea for the game a game that has been going on for years is that they bet on the outcome of votes and some times getting pranks to happen by the congressman while the congressman do not even know they are part of it.
Matthew is also on the appropiations committee where they decide who is going to get how much money for which projects so when a chance comes up for Harris and Matthew to bet on the game and matthew promising victory and a fat return because he is on this committee Harris and him put down a fat sum of money on the game.But with all this going out somewhere around 20,000 dollars Matthew gets nervous and follows the page who picks the package up.Part of the reason he gets nervous is that the only one he knows that is in the game is the one who braught him in Harris.Well following the page gets Matthew killed and causes Harris to find out how and why and who is behind the game and is it really so harmless.
Unlike some of the other reviews i thought this was a great book and very fastpaced with a surprise ending it was a diffenet page turner when i got about 2/3's of the way into i could not read the pages fast enough to find out what happens
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meltzer Fan Disappointed, March 22 2004
By 
Laura A. Rustin "laurabug65" (Wichita, Kansas USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
I must agree with the reviewer drgoldstein2. I too, am a long-time Meltzer follower and fan and I was seriously disappointed in this book. As others have said, I had eagerly anticipated this book due to the description. And if that had been the book which had been written, I probably would have loved it, but it wasn't. I would have like to have seen more about "The Game" and how it's played --- surely that could create suspense and tension --- and I would have liked to see the chases reduced and kept in DC. Mr. Meltzer does his best when he keeps his stories to the politics and the politicians. I also found the pairing of the 2 main characters very implausable and rather uninteresting and unbelievable. From the beginning, the book reminded me strongly of the author's previous title "The Millionaires" and perhaps that was part of the problem -- felt like I'd been there, done that.
One disappointment from an author won't turn me off entirely, so I'll look forward to the Mr. Meltzer's next book, but perhaps without quite so great an anticipation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Political Thriller, Feb. 16 2004
By 
Sheri Melnick (Enola, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zero Game (Hardcover)
What if staff members of U.S. Congressmen placed bets on whether certain portions of bills before Congress would be passed? And just what happens when the stakes become too high, resulting in murder? That is precisely what author Meltzer explores in his latest novel of political thrills and chills when Congressional staffers Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler bet on the passage of a former South Dakota gold mine sale in an Appropriations bill. When a Congressional page absconds with Matthew and Harris' betting money, one of them makes the mistake of following the "page" and becomes the murder victim of wildcard hit man Martin Janos.
But the suspenseful journey really commences when the remaining staffer finds Senate Page Viv Parker's stolen nametag near the site of the murder. Fearing for his life, he enlists the help of seventeen-year-old Viv Parker, as together, the two attempt to find the significance of the land deal, traveling to South Dakota to solve the mystery behind the formerly defunct gold mine, all the while eluding the wily Janos. The pulse pounding adventures of this duo are imbued with a sense of realism from author Meltzer, who once served as an intern on Capitol Hill. Full of twists and turns, Meltzer's latest is a thriller complete with the scary reality of the underbelly of politics.
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Zero Game
Zero Game by Brad Meltzer (Hardcover - Jan. 20 2004)
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