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Play Dead by Michael A. Arnzen

Play Dead

by Michael A. Arnzen

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"Arnzen (Bram Stoker award-winner Grave Markings) sets his second horror novel in a nightmarish 'Vegas,' where a group of desperate homeless men play an ultra-high-stakes 'Butcher Boy' card game run by casino owner Nebo Tarrochi. To qualify for the game, each player must create a suit of cards based on lurid photographs of dead people, and this cautionary tale grows sticky with relentless gore as the victims pile up. The novel's hero is Johnny Frieze, a compulsive but likeable gambler who has bottomed out at a homeless shelter after ripping out his own gold tooth to stake himself one last hand. He joins the game after learning the payoff is a cool million, money he hopes to share with Gin, a sexy shelter cook (and undercover P.I.). The other players add up to a gang of stereotypical psychos: Shorty, seemingly autistic and overweight, Preacher, a religious zealot, Ferret, an American Indian who doesn't drink but kills remorselessly, Axe, a bigoted creep who 'folds' early, and Winston, Nebo's neat-freak assistant. Johnny is desperate but no cold-blooded killer, so rather than murder to make the death photos, he tries to fake them, with dubious results. In a shakily plotted, over-the-top resolution, the game collapses like a house of cards. " Publishers Weekly
  rdsp | Sep 25, 2006 |
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Johnny Frieze knew it was coming long before it was dealt: a dead hand, nothing but Suicide King high.
"Anyone with pockets knows how it feels to be empty."
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pathological, /
homeless gamblers play sick games /
with murder victims


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