The Family Game: A Novel - book cover
Women's Fiction
  • Publisher : Ballantine Books
  • Published : 18 Oct 2022
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 0593158067
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593158067
  • Language : English

The Family Game: A Novel

"A powerful family and a deadly game. Be prepared for a nail-biting, roller-coaster of a ride in Catherine Steadman's classy and ingenious new thriller."-B. A. Paris, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors
From the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water, Mr. Nobody, and The Disappearing Act. . . .

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

Harriet Reed, a novelist on the brink of literary stardom, is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir of an extremely powerful family. And even though Edward has long tried to severe ties with them, news of the couple's marital bliss has the Holbecks inching back into their lives.

As Harriet is drawn into their lavish world, the family seems perfectly welcoming. So when Edward's father, Robert, hands Harriet a tape of a book he's been working on, she is desperate to listen.

But as she presses play, it's clear that this isn't just a novel. It's a confession.

A confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And, suddenly, the game is in motion.

Feeling isolated and confused, Harriet must work out if this is part of a plan to test her loyalty. Or something far darker. What is it that Robert sees in her? Why give her the power to destroy everything?

This might be a game to the Holbeck family-but losing might still prove deadly.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for the novels of Catherine Steadman

"Stylish, riveting, hugely atmospheric."-Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List

"Thrilling and thought-provoking."-Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Survive the Night

"[A] tricky psychological puzzle . . . It's a joy to encounter a suspenseful book whose turns lurk, rather than lumber, around the corner."-The New York Times Book Review

"Twisty . . . highly imaginative . . . deliciously provocative."-The Washington Post

"Perfectly thrilling."-Vanity Fair

"Mesmerizing . . wildly imaginative . . . Suspense is peppered in all the right places."-Associated Press

Readers Top Reviews

Short Excerpt Teaser


Fairytale of New York

Monday, November 21

Christmas lights twinkle in the rain as I duck down Fifth Avenue-reds, greens, and golds glimmering in reflection on puddles and glass as I dodge along the busy sidewalk, my phone pressed tight to my ear.

"And the good news is, it's looking like we're going to hit the million-copy sales mark by the end of this week! We did it, Harry!" my literary agent, Louisa, cheers on the phone. Her voice is as warm and close as if she were bundled up against the cold beside me in the sharp New York City chill. I try not to think of the three and a half thousand miles of distance between New York and London-between me and my old home and its soft, damp grayness-but every now and then the pangs of homesickness wake and stretch just beneath the surface of my new life. It's been four months since I left England, and the pull of home is somehow stronger now that winter is setting in. New York can be cold in so many ways.

"For all intents and purposes," she continues with glee, "here's me saying you are now officially ‘a million-copy bestselling author.' " I can't help but yelp with joy-a surreptitious half skip in the street. The news is incredible. My first novel, a runaway bestseller, has been on the charts since publication, but this new milestone isn't something I could ever have dreamed of until now. New York swallows my ebullient energy greedily. I could probably lie down on the sidewalk and start screaming and the festive shoppers would just weave unfazed around me. It's an oddly terrifying and yet reassuring thought.

"We'll be getting another royalty payout from the publisher at the end of the quarter," Louisa continues. "So Merry Christmas, everyone!"

It's funny, it's only November and yet it feels like Christmas is here already. I look up to the halos of light hanging above me, holiday decorations, sparkling from shop windows, strung in great swaths high over the main drag of Fifth. Everything seems to be moving so fast this year, a whirlwind, a whirlpool.

"How's it going over there?" Louisa asks, snapping me back to reality. "Settled? Happy? Are you living love's young dream?"

I let out a laugh of surprise because yes, as smug and as self-satisfied as it may sound, I really am. After so many years alone, after pushing relationships away, perhaps I've paid in full for my mistakes and I can put them to bed. Maybe I'm finally allowed a little happiness.

I shake off the dark thought and grasp back onto my new life with both hands. "Well, we've got furniture now at least. Not sure I've quite worked out the subway yet but I guess I'll get there in the end. Or I guess I won't," I add jokingly.

The truth is, while I know I am beginning to get a feeling for New York City, I realize I am trying to settle into a city that does not settle itself. The crowds, noises, faces, people, that frenetic fight-or-flight energy. I suppose it's only been four months-​I know it can take a lifetime to become part of a city, to find your place. And the world I've landed into here, with Edward, the new circles I find myself moving in, his rarefied life, that is something else again.

"And how is your dreamboat, how is Ed?" she asks, as if reading my thoughts. I slip past a gaggle of tourists in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral, its bells tolling anachronistically alongside towering glass and steel.

Louisa was with me the night I met Edward; I shiver at the memory of the look she gave me when I first brought him over to meet her. That silent swell of pride I felt to have my arm hooked through his, the pride anglers must feel cradling their outsized shimmering catches. Though I can only credit chance and timing with my iridescent prize. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say Edward plucked me from the stream than the other way around.

I would be lying if I said Edward's background, his habits, his rituals-so alien to me-hadn't lent him a strange additional attraction. His world is different from mine, everything he does invested with the subtle shimmer of something gilded. Not that I knew who he was when he first spoke to me.

We met at my publisher's annual Summer Gala in London, a lavish, star-studded party packed with bestselling authors, high-flying editors, and super agents. That year it was being held at the Natural History Museum, the vaulting Victorian architecture festooned with bright bursts of tropical flowers: orchids and heady-scented lilies. Waiters in white tie, ferrying champagne high above the heads of the mingling household names, debut authors, and reviewers. It was my first big author event, my book having only just come out the week before and exploding directly onto the Top ...