Karen’s Killer Book Bench: THE SOUL GAME #PI #Mystery #Thriller by Javier Castillo

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Private Investigator Thriller


A novel that plays with the dice of faith and deception, love and pain, with strange rituals and a dark secret that, if discovered, can change everything.

New York, 2011. A fifteen-year-old girl is found crucified in a church in the suburbs. Miren Triggs, an investigative journalist for the Manhattan Press, unexpectedly receives a strange envelope. Inside is the Polaroid of a gagged and bound girl, with a single note: “GINA PEBBLES, 2002.”
Miren Triggs and Jim Schmoer, her former journalism teacher, will follow the trail of the girl in the photograph as they also investigate the New York crucifixion. They will have to enter a religious institution where everything is secretive while, at the same time, they must decipher three questions whose answers seem impossible to reach: What happened to Gina? Who sent the Polaroid? Are the two stories connected?

“Javier Castillo is undoubtedly the new phenomenon of European literature.” — Joël Dicker

Published in more than 60 countries and selling over two million copies worldwide, bestselling author and “the Spanish Stephen King” (ABC) Javier Castillo’s THE SNOW GIRL (the #1 International Bestseller That Inspired The Netflix Series) and THE SOUL GAME will soon be available in English language editions.


Private Investigator Thriller


Chapter 1

Early morning
April 26, 2011
Miren Triggs

Don’t be afraid, everything comes to an end.

“Help!” I shriek, clutching my side, blood trickling from between my ribs.Keep it together, Miren! I tell myself, desperate. Hang the f— on. You need to think. Fast. Call out to someone. Get help before it’s too late.

I feel my heart regurgitating my own blood as if my soul were dizzy and sick after all these twists and turns. I made a mistake. It’s over.


The street is empty except for the footsteps I hear behind my own. His shadow, distorted by the streetlamps, grows and shrinks: huge, tiny, enormous, nonexistent, gigantic, ethereal. I lose sight of it. Where is he?!                                                                                                                                                 

“Help!” I cry into the dark, empty street, which seems to watch from the shadows like an accomplice in my death.

 C’mon, Miren, you have to get the truth out. C’mon. C’mon! You have to make it.

I don’t have my phone, but even if I did, I’d be dead long before the cavalry came. All they’d find would be the corpse of a thirty-five-year-old journalist, whose soul had been frozen solid since one fateful, bitterly cold night fourteen years earlier. Light from streetlamps always takes me back to that night of pain in 1997, to my screams, howling and trembling in the park, the grinning men, the trauma I’ll never be free of. Maybe it was bound to end like this, under the intermittent light of another set of streetlamps in another corner of New York.                                                      

Painfully, I lurch forward. Every step is like a knife in my side. I know this long, dark road only leads to Rockaway Beach, next to Jacob Riis Park: a long, wide shoreline battered by the wind and lashed by the insatiable ocean. Nobody will be out this early. The sun hasn’t risen yet and a waning moon bathes the footprints in the sand with melancholy. When I turn my head, I see it’s also illuminating the fine trail of black blood I’m leaving behind me. At least Miller will be able to track where I was headed. That’s what you think about when you’re about to be murdered: the clues that will help them identify your killer. His DNA in your fingernails, your blood in his car. Once he kills me, he’ll take my body away. It’ll be like I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth. There won’t be anything left but my articles, my story, my fears.                                                      

I turn left at the end of the road and, with a speed that tears at the fibers of my already wounded muscles, I duck into a recess in one of the concrete structures of Fort Tilden, an abandoned Army installation. Left to the mercy of the elements, the old fort has been reduced to inhospitable ruins on the tongue-shaped beach that protects Queens from the voracious Atlantic. And like Fort Tilden, I, who just a few days ago was a tireless journalist for the Manhattan Press, have been reduced to ruins. A little girl whimpering at the sound of his footsteps. A new version of my old fears. A dirty rag mopping up the world’s secrets and shame. A woman killed at the hands of a degenerate.

No one asked for my help. And I had to come alone. No one begged me to get involved in any of this, but something inside me shrieked that I had to find Gina. I don’t know how I missed it. I guess I had to feel… dead again.

The Polaroid. It all started with the Polaroid. That photo of Gina… How could I have been so…naïve?

I look left and right for a way out, trying to keep quiet between the gasps exploding from my chest. The sound of his footsteps mixes with the sound of the gale off the Atlantic; I feel coarse sand striking my skin like stray bullets in a battle between wind and sea.

“Miren!” he yells, rabid. “Miren! Come out!”

If he finds me, it’s all over. If I stay here, I’ll bleed to death. I already feel tired and woozy. The night is beckoning me. The soul game is underway in my heart. All the things they say happen when you’re losing too much blood. I put pressure on my wound, and it hurts like someone’s branding my flesh with the words: NOBPDY’S PROPERTY.

I close my eyes and clench my teeth, trying to withstand the stabbing pain in my side, and my mind returns to an idea I’d written off as hopeless.


About Author Javier Castillo…

Bestselling author Javier Castillo grew up in Malaga and studied business followed by a Master’s in Management at ESCP Europe. His first novel, EL DÍA QUE SE PERDIÓ LA CORDURA (2017), became a true publishing phenomenon, translated into 15 languages, and published in more than 60 countries. Rights have been acquired to produce the television series. His second novel, EL DÍA QUE SE PERDIÓ EL AMOR (2018), received both public and critical acclaim, as did TODO LO QUE SUCEDIÓ CON MIRANDA HUFF (2019).

THE SNOW GIRL was the most read novel during the 2020 lockdown in Spain, and in 2023 it was released as a miniseries on Netflix, achieving great success. THE SOUL GAME (2021) marked his global consolidation as one of the masters of suspense. To date, his novels have reached more than two million readers. His sixth novel, THE CRYSTAL CUCKOO, was published in January 2023


Links to Javier’s websites, blogs, books, #ad etc.:


Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3P6495U

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/3J2ZNZe

Amazon Audiobook: https://amzn.to/42wM0RB

Penguin Random House Grupo Books
July 11, 2023 | 408 pages | Paperback: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1644738771


Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/43zoNiW

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/3Nnc7WL

Amazon Audiobook: https://amzn.to/3P6R24m

Penguin Random House Grupo Books
April 11, 416 pages | Paperback: $19.95 | eBook $6.99 | Audiobook $13.89 ISBN: 978-1644738603


Official Website: JavierCastilloBooks.com

Instagram: @javiercordura

Twitter: @JavierCordura


Special Giveaway: Javier will give away a print copy of both THE SNOW GIRL and THE SOUL GAME (U.S. Only) to one lucky reader who comments on his Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog.

Happy Reading!


Thanks, Javier, for sharing your book with us!

Don’t miss the chance to read this book!

8 thoughts on “Karen’s Killer Book Bench: THE SOUL GAME #PI #Mystery #Thriller by Javier Castillo”

  1. Good morning, Javier, and welcome back to Karen’s Killer Book Bench. Wow! This story is as intriguing at The Snow Girl, which we spotlighted recently. I love twisty thrillers and can’t wait to read this book, too. Consider me hooked! Thanks for sharing your book with us today!

  2. Loved the blurb. This sounds like a fascinating book to read. Thanks Javier and Karen for sharing. Again Karen, thanks for introducing me to a new author.

  3. Thanks for introducing me to another new author. The excerpt makes me want to read more, sounds good!

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