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Lucky at Cards (Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback) (Book 28)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime; Reissue edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843957689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843957686
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,151,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Hard Case Crime imprint has found a perfect partner in Block, as this gritty grifter's tale, in print for the first time in 40 years, goes to show. In a small town somewhere between Chicago and New York, down on his luck card shark Bill Maynard stops off to take care of his teeth, recently broken in a beating he took for fixing a game. Planning to stay only long enough to heal, Bill's plans change when his dentist invites him to join a friendly game of poker. Having fooled the locals and earned a bundle at the game, Bill's ready to leave town when he falls hard for his host's sexy young wife, Joyce, who isn't fooled by his card tricks. Indeed, she's got higher stakes in mind: after seducing him, she ropes Bill into that old scheme, helping her get rid of her hubby. The plot twists here, then there, then back again, rooted in Block's strong characters and no-nonsense prose style.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Before Matt Scudder, before Bernie Rhodenbarr, before being named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Lawrence Block turned out paperback originals. This one--unavailable for more than 40 years--now receives a timely reissue from Hard Case Crime. It's a doozy. Bill Maynard is a card mechanic (cheater) who took a beating in Chicago and now is in serious need of some dental work. He finds it in an unnamed burg on the road to New York, and he also finds a nice little poker game. But who wanders into the game but one of the player's wives--who just happens to know a mechanic when she sees one. Soon enough Maynard and the wife are plotting to skip town with the husband's money, but, of course, the plan goes awry--in part because the square's life starts to feel good to our card shark. Block unwinds his plot superbly, pointing toward a classic noir finale but then seeming to pull away--or maybe not. And, along the way, there is all the teasing sexuality and tongue-in-cheek noir style that a pulp devotee craves. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Great story, really captures the fine art of mixing characters and events, always fun !!
Amazon Customer
This is a fabulous reprint of a Lawrence Block title originally published in 1964 from the good folks at Hard Case Crime.
Ed Lynskey,
If you like mysteries and or pulp/hardboiled/crime fiction, this book will not disappoint.
PokerBen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on February 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"They say every man has a weakness. They say that for every man there's a woman somewhere in the world who can make him jump through fiery hoops just by snapping her fingers. They say a man's lucky if he never meets that woman." -- from Lucky at Cards

If your publishing imprint's best-selling novels were by a particular author, you'd keep putting out novels by that author, wouldn't you? Well, that must be what's going on over at Hard Case Crime, because Lucky at Cards is the third "lost" Lawrence Block classic they've come out with. Lucky for us, it's another doozy, but what else could you possibly expect from the master of the crime novel?

Bill Maynard is an ex-magician who found his way into the card-sharp business. He upset the wrong people in his last town, so he's moved temporarily to New York, following an opportunity. But he's about to get very distracted by another, much more unexpected, opportunity -- one "with hooker's hips and queen-sized [...]," and one that's easily as dangerous as getting aces and eights.

Lucky at Cards was originally released under the title The Sex Shuffle and the byline "Sheldon Lord," and it was published in 1964, the year before The Girl with the Long Green Heart, Block's previous Hard Case Crime outing. It shares a more optimistic tone with that novel that is a far cry from the much darker Grifter's Game (a.k.a. Mona) from just a couple of years before. This is apparently a huge coup for the Hard Case gang as Block has been notoriously shy when it comes to his early pseudonymous novels.

Its brisk pacing is a big attraction, but Lawrence Block's forte has always been his wonderfully complex plots, especially in these early novels.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the best of Block's Hard Case Crime novels, though all three are superb. It's all that the reviewers say--vintage, pulpy noir with all the expected features and attachments. The interesting thing is that it's very different from the current Block style. Block's Scudder, Burglar, and Hit Man books are silky smooth, with economical plotting, perfect pacing, and effortless, but plausible endings. LUCKY AT CARDS is very different, and not just because of the differences in genre. For one thing, the book spends a lot of time on the mechanics of the card sharp's craft, the differences between cheating at gin and cheating at poker, the simplicity of cheating at bridge, etc. Second, the plotting is far more complex than Block's usual, with cuticle-chewing suspense and nasty double binds. The characters are straight out of the pulp noir genre, but they're still engaging and memorable. One of the first we meet is a dentist with a heavy nicotine addiction who sticks his fingers in the protagonist's mouth and annoys him with their taste. Yum. Welcome to pulpdom.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Sturm on December 27, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
You know you're in the classic noir time zone when our protagonist is disgusted by the taste of nicotine on the fingers of the dentist working on his teeth. Bill, a professional card sharp, has lammed out of Chicago with a mouth full of broken teeth (guess why). A pause for dental repairs at some huckburg. An invitation to a poker game. At the game, one of the player's wives, Joyce, wanders in and, on the QT, let's Bill know she recognizes what he's doing. Bill and Joyce, being two of a kind, plot to take hubby's money.( Interestingly, it's not by killing him.) While Bill starts putting the set-up in place, he takes a job as cover. What do you know? He's good at this job! Then he meets a soulful school teacher, who digs him. Two paths. Which one? You may think you have it figured out, but Block pulls off a twist ending that will have you grinning and shaking your head. If you like your pulp high on wit and low on gunplay, this is your book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ed Lynskey, on April 24, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fabulous reprint of a Lawrence Block title originally published in 1964 from the good folks at Hard Case Crime. I don't believe anything was altered to fit 2007. Esso gas is mentioned. The prices all sound like 1964's. I like that.

This paperback is a pure gem. The card sharp is Bill Maynard who has breezed into town. After caught cheating and getting his thumbs busted, Bill beat it out of Chicago. He meets a vivacious Joyce Rogers who's married to a Murray Rogers, a wealthy tax lawyer. Sparks fly. Bill and Joyce soon scheme to rip off Murray and go off to live the good life.

The poker and card-playing references give the tale its gritty realism. Bill with a conscience becomes a likeable protagonist. Marvelous twists and great minor characters, too.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Merrill TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book, written in 1964 and reprinted now by Hard Case, shows the real value of the Hard Case Crime line of crime novels. It's classic example of '60s crime fiction, a piece of history, but at the same time it's also a good read, a page-turner. The historical element is fun - all the now-anachronistic things like elevator attendants, the stick shift, and a whole lot of cigarette smoking. The writing is crisp, with colorful noir-ish characters and descriptions, and the plot is in the vein of movie thrillers of that period. I must say, the last chapter turned out differently than I expected! (Which is a good thing...I'm not surprised by thrillers or mysteries all that often.)
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