NEW RELEASE BLITZ: The Game Master of Somerville by A.J. Raven (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title: The Game Master of Somerville

Series: Somerville Mysteries, Book Two

Author: A.J. Raven

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/04/2024

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 45100

Genre: Contemporary, Young adult, mystery, high school, basketball, video gaming, teen crush

Add to Goodreads


Being handed another mystery about an escaped prisoner, teen wannabe-detective Jerry finds himself way over his head as kids around Somerville start disappearing and panic escalates. Is the escaped prisoner responsible for the kidnappings or is there some other sinister plan afoot?


The Game Master of Somerville
A.J. Raven © 2024
All Rights Reserved

“Jerry, when are you going to start doing it again?”

I tried not to roll my eyes for the umpteenth time. “Stop making me repeat myself,” I answered, trying to keep my voice calm as we walked through the school corridor to the chemistry lab. “What did you think I would continue doing?”

I already knew the response I was going to get. Ugh!

“I don’t know,” said my tall friend Justin, faking a shrug. “I thought you were going to continue solving cases, you know?”

Now I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at him. Enough was enough! Leave it to Justin to continue annoying me to do something that would get him attention. “Yes, you’re right, Justin!” I made sure he took in the irritated tone of my voice. “There’s a whole pool of unsolved cases out there just waiting for me to dive in!”

“Maaaaybe,” Justin sang. I shot him a look. He answered with a smile, brushing away a strand of his brown hair from his forehead. “Who knows? You can’t be sure unless you try.”

“You do realize it’s only been a couple of weeks since we solved the Devona case, right?”

I tried not to remember an incredibly weak Devona all tied up in a chair. Her blood being drawn by her captor with a syringe. If only I had figured it out a bit sooner. She would have lived—

“I know, I know.” Justin’s voice snaps me back to reality. We were outside the lab.

“Sure you do,” I said sarcastically, pushing my glasses back up my nose. Even though Justin had been annoying me for the past few weeks about solving more cases, in a way, I kind of appreciated his annoyance keeping me busy and stopping me from continuously remembering Devona’s face.

Justin took a deep breath. “Fine, I’ll give it a rest.”

“Thank you.” I faked a smile and mentally started to count down the time until Justin would bring up the same topic again. I entered the lab. The rest of the class was already there. I saw my childhood friend Ashley Burro-way, Ash for short, near one of the working stations. Her brown hair was tied up in a tight knot.

“Justin still wanting you to take on another case, Sherlock?” she asked with a smile, handing me a lab coat as I came closer.

I nodded, taking the coat from her. It took me a second to get accustomed to the smell of the chemicals all around me. I thought I was going to sneeze. But didn’t. Ash put on her safety goggles and opened her textbook. “If you ask me—” She looked straight at me. “—I don’t ever want to go through all of that again.”

“I hear you,” I said. Not knowing what else to say to her, I looked around. Justin was talking to some boys in our class. I knew the only reason Justin wanted me to take on another case was because he missed the attention it gave him. The moment the Somerville High newspaper published my story about solving the Devona case, the entire high school basically went wild. It was the first time the paper was read by the entire student body. The police did a good job when it came to keeping the local media away from me and my friends, but it was tough avoiding the sea of students and the faculty while at school.

Justin took the opportunity to break the ice with his crush, Lucy Broadway. My other friend, Nick Perez, enjoyed the attention, too, but not as much as his best friend, Justin, did. Ash had addressed the attention targeted at her by putting up a defensive air and simply avoided answering any of the questions she was asked about the case at school. The last member of our little group, Kate Williams, who already had an I-don’t-care attitude going on, did just that…just didn’t care. Due to the reputation she had already cemented, the students knew not to approach her unless she directly gave them permission to ask her a question.

The bombardment of questions I faced the day the paper was released was a lot to handle. “How did you figure it out? Did the police help you crack the case? What’s next?”

I answered the questions I could. And fortunately, like everything else in this world, interest dwindled and people started to talk about other stuff after a couple of days. Apparently the mystery-of-the-week plots occurring on the current famous TV shows were better than the real thing. None of us were affected by the dying attention except for Justin. On the fourth day, Justin shared his fear. According to him, Lucy was losing interest in him even though I told him it was just him being presumptuous, and he needed to work on his confidence. And frankly, let’s assume, if Lucy was indeed the kind of girl who only liked Justin because of the attention he was getting from the rest of the school, then she wasn’t the type of person he should be wasting his time with anyway.

Of course, Justin didn’t listen.

“Jerry, where are you?” Ash snapped her fingers in front of my eyes.

“Huh?” I blinked.

“Seriously, Jerry,” she said in a concerned voice. “You’re kind of spacing out more than usual. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” I saw Ash purse her lips. I knew what she was going to say. Ever since the Devona case, Ash had been bringing up therapy. She wanted me to talk to a professional after what Tom did to me. Ugh! That name!

Thankfully, our chemistry teacher, Miss Ophilia Patience, walked into the laboratory and Ash, like the rest of the class, kept quiet. Miss Patience wasn’t the kind of instructor the students wanted to cross. She looked at the class. No one said anything. After giving a quick nod, she started writing on the board behind her.

I looked around the lab again and realized someone was missing. “Where’s Nick?” I asked Ash. Her gaze was on the board, copying every single word Miss Patience was writing. I noticed Justin looking back at us from a few workspaces ahead. He averted his gaze when we made direct eye contact. I wanted to bet a hundred dollars he thought Ash and I were talking about taking up another case without telling him.

It took a few seconds for Ash to respond as she continued scribbling. “Don’t know.”

Weird, I thought. It wasn’t like Nick to miss class without telling us. Even if he did skip class, he and Justin always did it together. I tried not to think about it too much and looked at what Miss Patience was writing on the board.

Surprise! It was boring.

Time dragged on as Miss Patience talked about ways to influence chemical reactions. As far as I could tell, heating different materials up seemed to do the trick for a lot of them. Want to see something change? Try heating up the molecules!

And speaking of things heating up, I guess the same thing was going to come true for me and my friends soon enough. There was no way we could’ve avoided what was coming for us. But at that time, in the chem lab, with Ash busy writing notes next to me, none of us had the faintest idea about the domino effect that had already begun. I do sometimes wonder about what I could’ve done if I had known more back then.

Hidden myself in my house? Not talk to anyone ever? Resigned from my position as a contributor at the school’s newspaper?

But wondering about such possibilities didn’t matter anymore.

What was done was done.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

A.J. Raven is an author who likes to write mysteries with queer characters. He likes exploring leads that have a lot to learn and aren’t perfect; they will make mistakes. So, bear with them. You can find A.J. on Twitter


One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Leave a Reply