Skin Games is an excellent crime novel with a Romeo-and-Juliet twist. Adam Pepper must have had a good time writing this knowing he would be turning the reader on their ears in anticipation on how this thriller would end. What starts out sounding like a simple revenge story quickly becomes a crime noir coming-of-age tale with themes about loyalty and making commitments. The main protagonist is telling his story to a woman who wants him to avenge her family. She needs to know if she can trust him. What followed is his tale and the answer to her question which becomes the plot that will glue the reader to their chair for the next day or two. Often witty in a razor-blade way but mainly tense and violent, this is an excellent addition to the slew of crime noir novels out there and, like cream, this one will rise to the top.