The Judas Game: Ethan Cross
Imagine having a known serial killer and an FBI agent working together to bring down what is happening in a prison. Imagine not being able to stop this killer until he takes down every person that ever wronged him in life. When you enter the courtyard or this prison you would think that you were safe since there are so many guards around with guns pointed at you and a security system that can override anything you might try to do. Entering the courtyard you don’t see a lone shooter taking aim at you and what happens next is as a result of someone being programmed and told to take out four prison guards and follow orders or take the risk of losing his life and his family. Ray Navarro claimed he had no choice as a voice on a phone explained what would happened if he dared to veer from the plan. Next we hear the voice of someone called Judas who relates to readers the horrific life he led while a child and why he feels he needs to get even with someone related to the prison for what he endured in his life. The prison system is unique and when Marcus Williams and his partner Maggie descend on the prison things take on unique turn when approaching the warden and the Director of the FBI.
As Marcus tries to connect with his estranged son Dylan this case will take him inside the prison walls to catch not one killer but two. Francis Ackerman is his brother and is in prison for murder with more counts than you have fingers and toes. He is dangerous, fearless and not afraid to take down anyone that gets in his way. Would you not want him on your team? But, the prison officials and other higher up would rather seem him six feet under than working with them to catch whoever is killing prison guards and then prisoners. As Ray Navarro explains why he killed the four guards someone out there is working to make sure he never tells it all.
Within this prison there are several who feel that they are immune to what is happening and have other ideas to put in motion to control the inmates that had better pay homage to him and do his bidding. Leonard Lash is dangerous and is surrounded by many others who will maim, kill and take out their anger if crossed by anyone within the prison. Even though there is a warning and the prisoner will receive an electric shock the gravity of it depending on what he is doing to another inmate, Lash does not seem to fear anything or anyone. But, what will happen when Ackerman takes him on? Next you hear the voice of the man called Demon who is working with someone else who has his own agenda. As Demon is ruled in his mind by something called the Legion that insists that he carries out the murders and crimes, Judas also has his eyes set on prison officials, demanding others kill or lose their families and his prime goal to take down the prison itself. When Marcus demands that Ackerman go undercover to find out what is happening he is almost shut down. Making his brother promise to not kill anyone was a hard but promising some other perks might help him to decide to tone his actions down. But, when approached by Lash and making himself known in the courtyard of the prison, the scene would terrify most but when you enter it with him you decide whom the person to be feared should be.
Meeting the warden of the prison we learn some hidden secrets about Powell and yet knowing the danger he won’t shut down the prison and allow Marcus to get his job done. Maggie seems competent but at times reckless and not thinking about her actions as she gets caught in tight places and often hurt. Lisa Spinelli is the tech person and Demon is aiming to shut her down before they learn his real identity and stop him cold. When Marcus learns why Ray went wild in the year and Francis Ackerman is brought in things take on a different turn. Then the author brilliantly shares the life of Judas and what caused him to turn evil and why he is in control when Marcus and Powell are sent to the control center to try and save Navarro’s wife and child from death. Imagine having sand poured over you slowly and hoping not to be buried alive? Can they save him? But, Judas is in control and his requests are sadistic and yet have to be followed as both the Warden and Marcus might not make it out. A young impaired guard who saved Navarro named Jerry Dunn makes his way to become part of the team but can he be trusted? Just why is Demon set on his goals and how do they intersect with Judas’s plan? The scenes in the yard and between Lash and Ackerman are electrifying. Fear, hate, power, retribution, revenge and control are just some of the issues brought to light in this novel. As fear is high on the thermometer or scale and when brought to a boil or high temperature who knows who will survive the wrath of Lash, Demon and Judas? Which one is working for Lash and what happens when the sides change? The inmates are given freedoms that most would never be able to avail themselves of as they are called Residents and treated with somewhat a lot of respect. However, if they deviate they are severely punished.
Each encounter with Ackerman and a prisoner or anyone related to Lash if violence and graphically described. Many bodies will fall before all is said and done. But, is this the end for everyone in the prison? Do they stop Judas and Demon or will they be back to finish what they started? With Maggie in danger and the stakes really high will Marcus ever come to terms with the final fate of the Residents, Ackerman and Maggie? Will they allow Ackerman to remain a free agent or will they send him back to his “cage,?” With an encrypted folder on someone’s laptop and another tech breaking the code, you will be surprised what is contained and the information revealed. Is the end near or is there more to come as they need to search for someone called the Gladiator and someone manages to elude them. Who lives? Who Dies? Learn from Judas himself how he and his father created this arcade game allowing people to betray and lie about those close to them. Learn how a simple arcade game became one man’s deadly obsession. Is this over? What is the real fate of Judas? What about Demon? Read the final journal entry by Judas and you decide what might come next. “Every moment of fear, every bad decision, every good game, every moment of brilliance,” all there for future generations to read as the story is told to you for eternity. As Marcus says: Imagine losing all of us or is team: That’s fear! What’s your definition? Who will be next to play the deadly Judas Game? Author Ethan Cross created a prison that everyone thought was infallible. A system so intricate no one could bypass it. Read this incredible story but remember to choose your side wisely before you enter and play the deadly game.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine