“A Caller’s Game” by J.D. Barker BOOK REVIEW

A Caller's Game

Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Publisher: Hampton Creek Press

ISBN: 9781734210446

Genre: Thriller

Strong Point: The main story is good. The premise is interesting. 

Weak Point: The characters are so hideous that I don’t really care what happens to them.

Books on Tour Rating: Books on Tour LogoBooks on Tour Logo(3/5)

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.46/5)

Read book blurb here


In one of my last reviews, namely the one from “The Girl from Silent Lake” I wrote that liking or not liking the main character is quite important for me when it comes to enjoy a book or not. 

And I am afraid this is what has happened to me with “A Caller’s Name”. Jordan Briggs is a very unpleasant character. She is mean, selfish, greedy and very nasty.

Her antagonist, the killer, is not really an angel either. For obvious reasons, of course: he is the killer. 

The only one I could relate to a bit was NYPD Office Cole Hundley. 

Even the secondary characters are all unpleasant. Jordan’s daughter, for example, is unnerving; furthermore, I don’t know any 11 year old who speaks like her, thanks God! And I’ve been a teacher in the past…

And this circumstance is a pity, because the premise for the plot is quite good, thence the three starts of my rating. 

But it may just be me, so let’s get into the story.


On one side, we have Jordan Briggs (divorcée with one daughter, Charlotte) who is the star of a radio show at SiriusXM radio. Her audience likes her show because Jordan always says what is on her mind, no matter how rude it is of if she hurts someone’s feelings. She likes to shock her audience. 

Furthermore, for Jordan, ratings are the most important thing in her life. Neither her daughter nor the people who work with her for years are so significant as the numbers of her audience. 

So she would do ANYTHING for raising her show’s ratings. Literary anything. Including risking the life of one of her hearers. 

On the other side, we have NYPD Office Cole Hundley who, for a situation later explained in the book, has been sent to traffic patrol as a kind of “punishment”.

At the very beginning of the book, Jordan Briggs is running late for her radio show and parks her car literally in the middle of the street, close to the ratio station entrance. Cole sees this and follows her inside the building.

However, Jordan makes it to the radio show on time. She normally takes calls from her hearers and engages in a conversation with them. 

She takes one call from one of her listeners, a guy called Bernie, who proposes a game to her. Jordan thinks this would raise her ratings so she agrees. And this is the beginning of chaos.  

Taxis start to explode down in the street and people start appearing dead in their apartments, in which old, rusty pieces of furniture (which are not part of the flat’s furnishings) have been placed. 

From now on the story develops in a very (too much for my taste) fast pace. Lots of blood and dead people, lots of unrealistic situations and lots of incredible decisions take place. And explosions. Way too many explosions. 

Furthermore, from the beginning we know who the killer is but not his motivation for such horrendous crimes. This comes later. But I still cannot sympathise with the killer, not even a little. Plus the motivation for the people who help Bernie is simply not explained.

In addition, Bernie knows about everything. He would be a hell of a hacker or an explosives expert to name only a few of his (too) many qualities…And he can be literary EVERYWHERE…


After such an ordeal as it is described in the book, one could expect the main character to have learnt something. I think Jordan did, but not 100%. So this makes me think, what is the point of so much destruction and deaths? What is the point of the whole book if you are not going to learn anything from your past “sins”? 

Anyway, if you like “easy” thrillers where there is only action and not much logic this is probably your book. There is nothing more here. There is no much development in the characters and the situations are just not credible. Some twists in the story were just too much.   

When I read a book, it doesn’t have to be Kafka for me to like it. I look for entertainment, but a good one. Unfortunately, this book was not my cup of tea. And I still think this is in fact because of the unpleasant characters.

Thanks to the publisher, Hampton Creek Press, the author J.D. Barker and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of “A Caller’s Game” in exchange for an honest review.