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Dead Man's Hand

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  34 ratings  ·  10 reviews
If ever a subject begged to be associated with crime it is gambling, writes Otto Penzler in his introduction to this collection of short stories set at the poker table and beyond. In Walter Mosley's Mister In-Between, a bagman is sent to collect from a rigged poker game, but soon begins to wonder who the real mark is. In One Dollar Jackpot, Michael Connelly's detective Har ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published November 5th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin (first published January 1st 2007)
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There's a saying among poker players. If you've been at the table for thirty minutes and you don't know who the mark is, you are. When the game is penny ante poker, all you stand to lose is a few dollars. But when the game is murder, you stand to lose a whole lot more.

As Otto Penzler remarks in the foreword, "The biggest surprise about putting together a collection of stories combining poker and crime is that it has not been done before now." Dead Man's Hand features fifteen stories by some won
Michael McGrinder
Wild Bill Hickok was holding Aces and eights when he was shot in the back of the head, giving birth to the term "Dead Man's Hand." Like most short-story collections this one is uneven. It appears several authors were unfamiliar with poker: a faulted understanding of Texas Hold'em, mistaking the muck (discards) for the mush, and an overuse of poker cliches. The outstanding piece is "Strip Poker" by Joyce Carol Oates. If you overlook the amateur's approach to the poker world, you can settle in for ...more
Bob Redmond
Poker. Crime. Writing. Stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, and others. How could this book be bad?

Yet it is bad, bad like a bad poker hand: let's say a 10-6, unsuited. It keeps _wanting_ to be something, but in the end you go bust. So there are a few good stories, but not much worth holding onto in the end.
One word sums this book up, and that word is "disapointing". Looked forward to reading it but the stories are badly written and some are difficult to follow, I gave up in the end.
Hugh McBride
Excellent genre (crime fiction). Intriguing hook (crimes involving poker). Impressive lineup of authors (Oates, Mosely, etc.)

Guaranteed winner, right?

Yeah, not so fast.

Were I either a much better or a much worse writer, this is the spot where I'd begin an extended poker-related riff on how promising cards don't always lead to winning hands, and/or how even good cards don't matter if you don't play them skillfully, and/or something equally metaphorical.

But I'm not gonna do that here. Instead I'l
Zakariah Johnson
As usual, Joyce Carol Oates dominates all comers when it comes to stretching out the tension and upping the sense of dread in her short story contribution to this great compilation, though Walter Mosley, Laura Lippman, Michael Connelly and other masters of the art form give her a run for her money and nobody tries to bluff. If you like poker, mystery or just really good writing, buy this one.
Wayland Smith
A somewhat uneven collection, as can happen. Some of these stories were great, some less so. I question the wisdom of the strip poker story (you know there had to be one) having a minor protagonist, for one thing, but the one set in Hollywood was really well done.

Overall, I'd recommend the anthology, but the pieces have very uneven quality. If you like crime fiction or are a poker fan, by all means, dig in, you'll likely enjoy the majority of the stories at the very least.

It did get me curious
Raphael Vincent
I think this deserves a proper review, not just a handful of words off of me. Sadly, I can't really work on it right now since my appreciation of the anthology was inconsistent at best, tedious at its worst. Only the last story by Lorenzo Carcaterra ever gave me the impulse to even have my two cents here, or to even give it another chance, so I will. I will give this book another chance and hopefully I'd have something more substantial to say about it other than the fact that it wasn't a page tu ...more
Tom Mueller
The contributors to this is a "Who's Who" of Crime/Mystery fiction.
Includes "One-Dollar Jackpot", a Bosch short story by Michael Connelly.
Another great short; Joyce Carrol Oates' "Strip Poker", is an atypical 'coming of age' story Oates is so well known for.
Alas. I wish there were more good stories about poker. Reviewed for PW.
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Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

Penzler has won two Edgar Awards, for The Encycl
More about Otto Penzler...
The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop The Vampire Archives The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories

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