Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: Death Plays Poker

Death Plays Poker by Robin Spano is the second in the Clare Vengel series. Clare is a Toronto cop in her early twenties who is sent undercover to infiltrate a huge poker tournament. She’s not a professional poker player, but she’s read up on the game and studied the big names who’ll be playing there. While she’s not a seasoned player, she’s got good instincts, charm, and can read people. As you follow Clare along on the investigation, you won’t be alone since a good chunk of Canada is watching the televised tournament.

In addition to learning about Clare through her actions and decisions, we learn about the other characters in the book, as each one takes control of a chapter’s POV. I’m not a poker player, but going by what I see of tournaments on TV, Spano has done a good job of making these egotistical and big-talking poker players believable. And Clare can bluff with the best of them, which is good since she has a lot of money in the pot, and it’s not her money. Bit by bit, she whittles away at the players’ alibis as well as their stake in the tournament.

I thought this was a fun and suspenseful read. I like Clare Vengel and will look for the next book in the series.

Amazon Canada

Amazon USA

Barnes and Noble

I give Death Plays Poker by Robin Spano a rating of Hel-of-a-Writer. She made her characters in this who-dunnit believable, interesting, and memorable.
FTC Disclaimer: I was given nothing in return for this review. Well, that’s not exactly true. I was given enjoyment. But to be honest, I take enjoyment from other things. Like telephone calls from friends and my children. And Christmas cards (It’s a shame they’re going out of style these days). And my movie purse. Okay, I admit, I love movie popcorn, but movie popcorn loves my thighs, so I take a ziplock bag of grapes in my 1980s cloth purse (Yes, I was alive way back then; I was in my teens). Okay, okay, I know this is a Federal disclaimer so I shouldn’t lie. (Let’s just say I was older than 15.) And no, I don’t think I’m cheating the theatre. I buy a medium Diet Coke and my husband and son each buy a giant Coke and a giant bin of popcorn, and sometimes candy, plus we, of course, buy our tickets. I think all that stuff offsets my grapes. Wait a minute, I got off track. Where was I going? Oh yeah, I could see Clare Vengel on the big screen, solving the unusual cases. I’d watch that. I might even throw a few strawberries into the grapes in my movie purse. Call me if you’re going. I’ll bring extra.


  1. Great review...and disclaimer! It *is* a shame about the decline in Christmas cards!

  2. And, unfortunately, Elizabeth, I'm one of those contributing to the decline. I didn't send out as many this past Christmas as I have in the past.

  3. Your disclaimer is laugh out loud hilarious today! I'll forgive you for sneaking in grapes if you forgive me for sneaking in Hot Tamales.

  4. If I sneaked in Hot Tamales (I assume you're talking about the candy.), I'd have to buy a large Diet Coke to cool my palate (notice my fancy-smancy word there?).

  5. and I were the same age in the '80s. I sneak in Junior Mints. That is, when I can stand to pay the ticket price. Netflix is my friend.
    I don't read whodunnits but this book sounds kind of fun and I like that it features a female protagonist.

  6. I like female protags, too, Laura. And we got Netflix for Christmas from our son. So far, we've watched one movie on it.

  7. Funny disclaimer.

    I've read her first book and liked it. This must be her second. I'll have a look. I'm always glad to support a fellow Canadian writer.

  8. Good review, Helen.

    Son and Hubs do the same-popcorn and sodas. My purse carries a large water. We can get Rasinettes and hot tamales (my favorite) at the dollar store for a whole lot less--gads the mark up at the theater is mind boggling. So, yep, those go into my purse, too. What can I say, I have a huge purse, lol!


  9. I knew I wasn't the only one, Sia!

  10. Awesome cover and review as well as a reassuring disclaimer!

  11. Bob, I bet you're a poker player.

  12. A fine review. Really funny disclaimer, too. I smuggle in candy and bottled water all the time.

  13. I just love that Clare would merit extra fruit. Strawberries are my favorite, too. Yum, and Laura, share those Junior Mints.

    Clarissa, I would love your take on Clare #2. Feel free to get in touch for a review copy.


  14. I needed this laugh tonight Helen. Thanks.

    The book souunds intriguing too :)


  15. Poker and murder ... sounds like a good combo. But grapes instead of movie popcorn? I'm reporting you to HUAC, comrade.


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