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Lucky at Cards

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,082 ratings  ·  118 reviews

On the mend after getting run out of Chicago, professional cardsharp Bill Maynard is hungry for some action – but not nearly as hungry as Joyce Rogers, the tantalizing wife of Bill’s latest mark.   Together they hatch an ingenious scheme to get rid of her husband. But in life as in poker, the other player sometimes h
Paperback, Hard Case Crime #28, 220 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Hard Crime Case (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  1,082 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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A stand alone novel by Lawrence Block written as (Sheldon Lord) first published 1964.
This is the first Lawrence Block book I’ve read that’s left me feeling a bit ho hum.
Written when he was 26 the book is a strange mix of soft erotica and soft crime.
I did learn a bit about how card sharp operate but not much else.
Bill Maynard a card mechanic by occupation roles into town to do what he does best, taken money from unsuspecting punters. At one game his cheating is noticed by one of the players’ wive
Cathy DuPont
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifty years old, that's how old this book is. And Lawrence Block is still pumping them out and marketing like a madman.

I love this pulpy cover however it was an audio that I listened to and it couldn't have been any better had I read it.

Great storyline, great characterization, great cover, great typeface, great paper, etc., etc. It was another LB blockbuster.

Lawrence Block. I can always depend on LB for entertainment.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, block, fiction, hardcase
William Maynard, a former magician turned card shark, was run out of Chicago following a botched poker scheme. Following a nasty dust up, Bill befriends a dentist and finds himself with an invitation to a low stakes card game. It’s there that he meets Joyce, the sultry wife of tax lawyer Murray Rogers. Before long, Bill finds himself tangled up in the sheets with Joyce and the two hatch a plan to frame Murray for murder, eliminating him from the picture. Will their plan succeed or will Bill’s lu ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I can't get over how this books simultaneously feels quite modern, yet is a total throw-back. The world of seeling real estate syndicates, and the descriptions of the lifestyles of salespeople and businessmen doesn't seem that dated... But playing gin for money? That's one detail that just seems so old-fashioned.

While I'm at it, I had to smile when I finished the book... I realized it was a romance novel "for men" - It's got all the tropes, people with unusual and dangerous histories, a bit of a
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you!
Cards, scotch, cigarettes, lust, betrayal, what's not to love? Block's writing is akin to Bukowski, in that he gets to the point, weaves an interesting tale and pulls on your emotions only when it matters most. No extra fluff or literary gymnastics. Despite being written in the mid sixties, the language is timeless and not dated, yet still makes you feel that you are fully there in that era observing and relating to the characters. Suspenseful, intriguing, gritty, yet sweet. It would make a fant ...more
Claudette Gabbs
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a good read. I didn't expect that ending. The story didn't slow down. The characters likeable. I enjoyed it. ...more
Dave Schaafsma
May 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Lucky at Cards is a pulpy noir story that is part of the Hard Case Crime series I just discovered re-releasing a lot of stand-alone books by classic mystery writers such as Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, Mickey Spillane and others. I am also simultaneously listening to two LOOONG books, Emma by Jane Austen and 11/22/63 by Stephen King, so I alternate those with comics and these fast hard-boiled books.

Lucky at Cards was published in 1964 as The Sex Shuffle by Lawrence Block under the pseudonym Shel
Joseph Bruno
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it

If you are a fan of Lawrence Block, like I am, "Lucky at Cards" is right up your alley. It was written in 1964, and is one of Block's earliest works. It's about an ex-magician named Bill Maynard, who decides to become a card shark. He get outed by the wrong type of people, and is left in a heap in an alley, with several of his teeth missing. He makes an emergency trip to a dentist, in another town of course, and find out that the dentist is a card player himself. Trying to recoup the money to pa
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Fun though slight book. The main character is a sleight of hand artist turned card sharp, able at dealing from the top of the deck, setting up cards for further deals, etc. etc. In Chicago, he is beat up by some mobsters, his teeth are broken, and he's run out of town. In some unnamed midwestern city, he is steered to a game by his dentist (fixing his broken teeth). Surprisingly, in this home game, the wife of the homeowner catches on to what he's doing, and drop some hints to him about it. This ...more
Sam Reaves
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Early Lawrence Block, re-issued by Hard Case Crime. A card shark gets run out of Chicago when he gets caught cheating and washes up in an unnamed Midwestern city. He spots the local marks and is preparing to fleece them when the femme fatale appears in the person of the young, voluptuous and terribly bored wife of one of his new poker pals. She spots the dirty tricks but doesn't blow the whistle, and our hero knows he has found a soulmate. Soon she has a proposition for him, and a classic noir s ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
It's a better than average Hard Case Crime novel by Lawrence Block.

A noir about a card shark who hooks up with the wife of a rich lawyer and they decide they want to be together with his money, but how to do it?

And that's where Block's talent comes in.
He sets the tone and creates the characters in all the right ways.
It's dark and fast, crime and double crosses, dames and booze - all the good stuff you would expect from Hard Case Crime.

It was a quick and very enjoyable read.
I don't read these
Andrew Shaffer
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Early Block, written under a pen name and re-released by Hard Case Crime. While the story is rather straightforward for the first 2/3rds, Block keeps it moving at a quick pace.
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
This was the novel that made me love Lawrence Block.

My dad, who always had a stack of thriller novels on his nightstand & on the desk in his office (still does), always tried to get me to read thrillers. My nightstand always had sci-fi or fantasy novels stacked as high as his books & he would pick them up, check the synopsis on their backs & tell me I could be reading better stuff than that.

Now & then he would hand me a book by Westlake, Ellroy or Block & tell me to give them a try. I would co
Ed Dexter
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp, crime
I've been a long time fan of pulp but haven't really dipped into the realm of "real world" crime pulp. Usually in the crime pulps I read there is a buff bronze-skinned super-genius or mystery man that can cloud the minds of men.

I found this at my local library for 50 cents. Even though it's a modern reprint, it has classic pulp art from the 60s which immediately caught my eye. The brief summary on the back tells of an on the run cardsharp who falls for the wife of his latest mark and their hatch
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I kind of hated this but also kind of liked it. It was pulp noir, so I can't completely fault it for the clichés, but why are there only two types of women in these kinds of books, and they both just can't help but throw themselves at the protagonist, no matter how uninteresting he is? Granted, they might have different motivations or whatnot, but it all seems like the author's wet dream. Then again, maybe it says more about the male main character, whose viewpoint drives the narrative, that he ...more
Jordan McPeek
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, audiobook
You know what you're getting with a book like this: card shark blows into town, meets the femme fatale, everything falls into place, everything falls apart. But it's a matter of when and how and how far. I read this genre so I can find books like this one. Lean writing, fast moving. The plot, the plot, the plot - fantastic. Nothing forced or inserted, it moves naturally and quickly, keeps you wondering how it'll turn out.

Written in the mid-sixties, it's got a great sense of the era, especially
Benjamin Thomas
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Lawrence Block novel, an author that I might never have tried if it hadn't been for some friends right here on Goodreads that highly recommended him. This is a stand-alone novel; I wanted to try one like this first to see if I liked it. Card sharks, con men, femme fatales, a con with several twists...what's not to love? (Plus I liked the cover art). I also knew that since the story had been picked up by the "Hard Case Crime" inprint, it would likely be a good one. Indeed, I was ...more
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
With reprints like this one, Hard Case Crime fulfills its mission in the universe. Lucky at Cards by Lawrence Block was originally published in 1964 as The Sex Shuffle by Sheldon Lord. The original title was terrible, and the pseudonym was not even to specific to Block--it was a name used by several writers. In sum, this book might easily have fallen forever out of print, which would have been a shame. Lucky at Cards mines familiar territory with a great deal of skill: The book's narrator is a c ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
What's not to love about this book. Vintage Block. A card sharp winds up in a small town to get his teeth fixed, gets in a card game where he uses his card skills to win some money, is recognized as a card shark by the host's beautiful wife who wants out of her marriage, they conspire, but the card shark falls for a local school teacher and the con begins to collapse around him. Sounds hokey, but in Black's deft hand, it works, and you keep reading. The book was first written under a different n ...more
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Block's 2 books in the hard case crime series have been a welcome surprise the last couple of days. There is not much that is distinct from noir traditions here, but Block fuses things together pretty well and paces the text pretty quickly - the rhythm carries you through, the language is fresh/snappy enough, or at last aware of itself. I would recommend checking Block out - starting with Grifter's Game and if you dig it come back to this one.

I'm a little scared of the many other Block texts (Bu
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lawrence Block Fans
This book was written in the early sixties, at the beginning of his career, and it shows. If you are a Block fan, and are interested in how he developed as a writer, I highly recommend this book. Additionally, if you are interested in, or like, the thriller style that was popular in the 50's and 60's then this book is for you. The plotting, with a good twist at the end, is well done and his writing style was doing really well, even then. My only problems are that his characters were unbelievable ...more
William Thomas
Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.

Nothing more than your standard pulp fare ala 50's crime novel, but what sets this apart from other Block novels is that this book felt right. It felt like it just rolled off his tongue, off his fingertips, like the short con with a shell game. It's a bunch of bullshit but you eat it up because it's believable ( as opposed to some of his other character novels ).

Block was born to churn out these types of novels- ones featuring femme fatale, a mark and the con man
Derek Farrell
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An original Block from 4 years before I was even born, this one has a sizeable dollop of the Pulp approach that you'd expect from Hard Case Crime (read: more sex scenes than the story really needs, and an almost absolute absence of characterisation beyond the 4 principals) but it's still a Brilliant piece of writing. It shines in the simplicity and yet engagement of the story. It makes you want to know "What happens next," and then - having give you over 200 pages of hard boiled cynicism - it re ...more
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A quick read with a lot of decent twists. The last couple of chapters seem a little rushed through, but they're not the most important ones anyway.
I did enjoy that this book had one of the few happy endings that didn't make me feel annoyed. The "good girl" character is drawn well enough that you are happy for the narrator's choices more than you aren't left feeling like the narrator's decisions are a cop-out, and it satisfies a certain romantic aspect, even if it is only because the ideal of the
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
The author's name is a pseudonym for Lawrence Block, author of the Hit Man series that I liked quite a bit. This is one of his earlier efforts repackaged as part of the Hard Case Crime series. It was interesting to read a book set in the '60s. No one had a cell phone, forensics were incredibly limited, and someone could get a job with zero background check. But, OMG, everybody smoked and drank all the time. Not a mystery story so much as a caper gone awry story. ...more
Carla Remy
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp-and-romance
I'm just taken with the idea that in the early 60s a writer like Lawrence Block (a good writer based on these Hard Case Crime books I've read, though I haven't read his current work) would write these drugstore pulps, but so much better than they had to be. And it's so cool that Hard Case Crime reprints them. I'm happy. ...more
Simon Peters
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an early work by Lawrence Block, republished after 37 years and for the first time under his own name. In my opinion anything by Block is worth a look, and this is no exception. Card sharp Bill Maynard hatches a plan with Joyce Rogers, the wife of his intended victim, to get rid of her husband. But as with almost every Block story, there is a twist in the tale. Get it, read it, and enjoy.
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
A nice little book with a gentle twist: Card shark finds his life going down the tubes and ends up in a small town, sharking a table full of small businessmen. He somehow thinks small town business means not going for the throat...and winds up in bed with the bigwig's second wife, a refugee from the underworld that the hero's been playing all this time. ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, thriller, action
Written by author Lawrence Block writing as Sheldon Lord. This 1964 book was also published in 2007 as Lucky at Cards.

Thriller - Card cheat Bill Maynard is run out of Chicago. Recovering in a small town, he gets into a card game and is recognized for what he is by the young wife of his host. Together, they plot to imprison her husband so she will have full access to his wealth.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book about a card "mechanic" who cheats his way through the country one town at a time. Then he gets a liking for another man's wife and tries to get her for his own along with her husband's money. Not the most likable character but the book was interesting. ...more
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A pseudonym used by Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Peter Hochstein and Milo Perichitch.

Books positively identified as Westlake's or Block's will also have their name in the author field.

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