cover image Death Plays Poker: 
A Clare Vengel Undercover Novel

Death Plays Poker: A Clare Vengel Undercover Novel

Robin Spano. ECW (IPG, dist.), $24.95 (422p) ISBN 978-1-55022-987-5

In the prologue of Canadian author Spano’s muddled, unsuspenseful second Clare Vengel novel (after 2010’s Dead Politician’s Society), the “Poker Choker” strangles Willard Oppal, a professional poker player, in his hotel room at a tournament in Montreal. When Clare goes undercover as Tiffany James, a wealthy amateur player trying to make it on the tournament circuit, in an effort “to find a killer in a haystack,” she encounters a host of poker players, from wily veteran T-Bone Jones to photogenic Elizabeth Ng, many of whom appear to be modeled on real-life pros. A poker writer, George, is secretly working on a book about the serial killer stalking poker players, and a high-tech cheating scam is going on, but the author fails to develop a palpable sense of drama or danger. Those not expecting the great poker mystery will be most satisfied. (Oct.)