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Item - Invitation to Murder

(hardback)
(paperback)
(paperback)
Series: Storytrails — no. 1
Contained In: The Storytrails Book of Thrillers (Collection)
Translated Into: Invitación al asesinato (Spanish)
Invitation til mord (Danish)
Sǐwáng qǐngjiǎn [死亡請柬] (Chinese)
Author: Sharp, Allen
Illustrator: Acs, Laszlo
Date: 1982
ISBNs: 051608903X / 9780516089034 (hardback)
052128502X / 9780521285025 (paperback)
Length: 37 sections (each two pages long)
Number of Endings: 6
User Summary: You've been invited to the reading of the will of a man that you've never heard of. Alas, all is not as it seems, and you are soon trapped in an isolated spot with a murderer.
Demian's Thoughts: I hesitated at using the word "you" in the plot summary above; it's not really very accurate, since the book is written in the first person, past tense, but since the narrator remains anonymous throughout the story and the reader controls his or her actions, it's really no different from a second-person gamebook. Actually, though the book's chosen voice seems a little odd at times (especially when the first-person narrator dies in the past tense), it's only awkward by gamebook standards; it actually helps to make the book more readable -- if I have to feel a little uncomfortable about the tense in a gamebook, I'd rather feel that way at choice points, when the flow of the book is interrupted anyway, than during the reading of the text segments, when distractions are more upsetting.

Speeches on tense selection aside, this is a solid book. It's not groundbreaking in terms of story or gameplay, but it works well enough in both areas to be worth reading. The story is classic murder mystery material, using lots of classic genre elements and doing a decent job of keeping you guessing about the murderer's identity. The gameplay is almost totally linear, with events happening in the same general manner no matter what you do, but this linearity is handled in such a way that it never feels frustrating or restrictive, so I can't honestly complain about it.

I'd certainly be interested in reading more of these books, if only I could get my hands on some. If, like me, you're a frustrated Storytrails collector with an undersized collection, my best advice is to pick up the (almost equally rare, I fear) Have Your Own Extra-Terrestrial Adventure book that I reviewed a while back. It seems to be aimed at the same audience, and it's written in much the same style as this book.

More reviews by Demian

Guillermo's Thoughts: (review based on the Spanish translation)

This is a very exciting mystery / suspense gamebook, and an excellent start to this series. The writing is top-notch and, as Demian mentions, figuring out which of the characters is the murderer is not easy, an aspect which gives the story a feel like that of an Agatha Christie novel. The adventure is set in a deserted hotel in the Alps, so being trapped with a murderer in that remote location evokes a very effective feeling similar to that conveyed by Stephen King's The Shining. Regarding gameplay, the choices actually require some thought and the fact that the chances of reaching a death ending are higher than in some other Storytrails books (like The Sicilian Contract, which I reviewed just before this), also contributes to make this an entertaining experience. Despite these facts, the book should not take more than an evening to complete successfully. The book is also very effective at maintaining suspension of disbelief, so that all the choices generate tension and suspense even when in some cases the outcome of either choice is exactly the same. Overall, this is a great gamebook.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the paperback scans.
Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes (HC), Gurvo, katzcollection (North American edition), knginatl, Robert123, Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: jeremydouglass, NEMO (North American edition& british), odo_ital

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