The Stranger Game (Original)

Peter Gadol (Author)


Optioned by FX for Television

Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018

"A fun, moody, twisty thriller, with a sun-touched, West Coast vibe... as much Joan Didion as Patricia Highsmith." --Scott Smith, author of
A Simple Plan

"Like the best of Highsmith and Hitchcock rolled into one." --Marisa Silver, author of
Little Nothing

A literary suspense novel in which an eerie social game goes viral and spins perilously--and criminally--out of control.

Rebecca's on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the "stranger game," a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense and disappearances are reported across the country.

Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may take her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.

Product Details

Hanover Square Press
Publish Date
October 02, 2018
5.7 X 1.1 X 8.6 inches | 0.9 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Peter Gadol's six novels include Silver Lake, Light at Dusk and The Long Rain. His work has appeared in journals such as Tin House, StoryQuarterly, Story, Bloom and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A former NEA Fellow, Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is chair of MFA Writing at Otis College of Art and Design.


Beautiful, thoughtful meditation on the invisible ties that bind us-even to strangers. --Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Engrossing.... Those with a taste for the offbeat will find this well worth reading. --Publishers Weekly

A phenomenal mystery novel filled with action and a story line that makes you think about human interaction. --The Oklahoman

"A game of following random strangers, shared in a magazine article, becomes a worldwide cult and ends up getting people killed. (Go figure.) Each "following" is a vignette in itself, adding irresistible color -- you can understand how the game could be addictive. But there's also a melancholy undercurrent about alienation. If you like James Sallis (I do) you'll enjoy the philosophical asides." --The News & Observer

This is Patricia Highsmith-style suspense, edgy and a little dreamy, with a sense of uncertainty lurking everywhere. --Booklist

"The Stranger Game is a sharp-toothed commentary on the ways in which 'following' can foster a pretense of intimacy between strangers, and how the falsity of this intimacy--its utter lack of substance--often creates a perilous hunger for more: more access, more communion, more knowledge. It's also a fun, moody, twisty thriller, with a sun-touched, West Coast much Joan Didion as Patricia Highsmith." --Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

"'Following' gets a whole new meaning in Peter Gadol's stylish psychological thriller set in the future of the day-after-tomorrow. A moody, increasingly dangerous house of mirrors where the rules morph as his players become more obsessed with 'the stranger game.'" --Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and The Revolution of Marina M.

"The Stranger Game is a gripping and nuanced novel that asks whom we trust and why. It is about being an insider and an outsider, about being watched and, finally being truly seen." --Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One is Here Except All of Us

"Imagine a metaphysical thriller inspired by Patrick Modiano and illustrated by Giorgio Di Chirico and you'll have an idea of this enigmatic novel, The Stranger Game." --Edmund White

"The ingenious conceit of Peter Gadol's novel--to literalize our obsession with on-line following--yields a psychological thriller that brilliantly exposes the state-of-the-culture, one in which we have traded authentic emotional connection for a virtual one whose implications for the soul are troubling. Like the best of Highsmith and Hitchcock rolled into one, The Stranger Game is a compulsively absorbing and thought-provoking triumph." --Marisa Silver, author of Little Nothing and Mary Coin

"If you've ever spent time people watching, or if you yourself have ever felt watched or followed, you'll see yourself in Peter Gadol's The Stranger Game--and it will unnerve you. This is the perfect novel for a world in which real human connection is so elusive." --Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home