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Death Plays Poker: A Clare Vengel Undercover Novel [Paperback]

Robin Spano
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2011 A Clare Vengel Undercover Novel

When poker players at a major, televised tournament begin turning up strangled in their hotel rooms, cop Clare Vengel must once again go undercover to befriend the suspects and find the killer in their midst. Though Clare hates her shallow cover character Tiffany, a trust-fund princess who thinks the poker tour is a better idea than college, posing helps her infiltrate the inner circle quickly. Her flashy new wardrobe also attracts the attentions of Noah, a dark stranger who’s at the game for hidden reasons of his own. With her handlers doubting her every move, everyone she meets lying for a living, and more victims losing their lives, Clare feels the pressure and questions whether she should pack it in and go home to a dull life as a beat cop or stick it out to find the killer and prove her worth.


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Review

“A fast-paced, readable debut . . . Spano has created an enjoyable read, which bodes well for future entries.”  —Quill & Quire on Dead Politician Society



"This is a book that grabs you like a gambling addiction and doesn't let go." —Saskatoon StarPhoenix (January 21, 2012)

About the Author

Robin Spano is a crime writer and the author of Dead Politician Society. She lives in Steveston, British Columbia.


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, Fast-Paced, and Fun Sept. 22 2012
By Debra Purdy Kong TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Toronto undercover cop, Clare Vengel, is posing as a rich, pro poker player wannabe to find out who's been strangling players. With three people dead (one her predecessor) Clare needs to find answers fast before her cover's blown and she becomes the latest victim. But it isn't easy. Poker players are suspicious and experts at lying. Complicating the situation is the new, attractive player, Nate, and the possibility that some players are cheating.

Death Plays Poker is the second in Robin Spano's series and it's fast-paced ride. The book is also filled with humor mixed with layers of angst as Clare deals with handlers who keep threatening to pull her off the case. She's also facing a growing attraction to Nate, confusion about her boyfriend back home, and news that her father is dying. These problems add depth to a character who's determined to find the killer despite her discomfort with the spoiled rich "princess" persona. Spano does a great job with multiple points of view, quick short chapters, and mounting suspense. This book has everything I love in mysteries: an interesting protagonist, humor, quick pacing, and a clever plot. I also learned something about the world of professional poker. A great read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Stakes Poker and Murder Jan. 30 2012
Format:Paperback
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.

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!! Oct. 8 2011
Format:Paperback
Hands down one of my favourite books this year.
After reading the first book of the series (Dead Politician Society), I eagerly awaited the release of this one.
The main character is smart, rough-around-the-edges, and has a hard time not saying what she means - my kind of girl.
I also enjoyed entering the world of high-stakes, professional poker, which I knew nothing about before reading this book.
I couldn't put it down, and the only disappointing thing is that I have to wait a whole year before the next one comes out!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic New Canadian Writer! Nov. 1 2011
Format:Paperback
In Canadian author Robin Spano's second novel, Death Plays Poker, rookie Toronto cop Clare Vengel is on an undercover assignment as a professional poker player to try and crack a series of murders. Someone is strangling world class poker players in their hotel rooms and it's Clare's job to infiltrate the group and find the killer. Spano has put together an amusing, well-drawn cast of suspicious characters. Each chapter in this intriguing mystery is told from a different character's point of view, a smooth transition that's expertly handled. Clare's character is an appropriately tough, but flawed, take-no-crap kind of heroine who's truely likeable. Robin Spano is a fantastic new voice in Canadian crime writing and Death Plays Poker is a winner
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic New Canadian Crime Writer! Sept. 30 2011
By Julia Madeleine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Canadian author Robin Spano's second novel, Death Plays Poker, rookie Toronto cop Clare Vengel is on an undercover assignment as a professional poker player to try and crack a series of murders. Someone is strangling world class poker players in their hotel rooms and it's Clare's job to infiltrate the group and find the killer. Spano has put together an amusing, well-drawn cast of suspicious characters. Each chapter in this intriguing mystery is told from a different character's point of view, a smooth transition that's expertly handled. Clare's character is an appropriately tough, but flawed, take-no-crap kind of heroine who's truly likeable.

Robin Spano is a fantastic new voice in Canadian crime writing and Death Plays Poker is a winner.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and suspensful Sept. 26 2011
By T. Murrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Clare is a mediocre undercover agent who desperately wants to stay in the game long enough to prove she can do the job. So she takes an undercover job as a spoiled rich girl who wants to get into the poker world. She's looking for the serial killer who has been killing poker players, including an undercover cop.

I really enjoyed this book. I know very, very little about poker so was expecting to be confused. But the games were described in such a way that even a complete poker novice can follow. The characters were well developed and interesting. I really enjoyed Clare. She seemed real, believable and completely likeable. Her mistakes seemed to actually help her in a way, while keeping me amused. The author did a great job of keeping me clueless, almost to the end, on the identity of the killer.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This series is getting better Oct. 14 2012
By bookmagic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Clare Vengel gets another chance to go undercover, this time on the Canadian Poker circuit. Players are being murdered and the last undercover was killed also. Clare has to go into character as a trust-fund brat which is not her style but she pulls it off. I also got to learn a lot about poker, something I'm not very good at. The plot wasn't brilliant but I like that the author is evolving Clare as a person. This was a fast, not to heavy read and I'm sure I'll read the next in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More about characters than murder or cheating (a good thing) Sept. 22 2012
By Stephan Hovnanian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First off, a personal hat-tip to the author for including Sun Chips in this novel about poker. When my friends and I play, it's our snack of choice, so for me I had an instant connection to the story.

Back to the book...this was a fun read about 2 investigations that seemed to be connected: a cheating ring going on in the professional poker circuit, and a series of murders of poker players that seemed to be people who got too close to the cheating ring (or were expendable). That part of the story kept you guessing pretty much the entire way through, mostly because not enough information was given about either case to let you figure them out.

Instead, the story was more about the characters than the investigations, which I actually enjoyed immensely. Because poker is social, and in many cases all about the characters at your table with you.

My one critique was that there were so many characters (and some with more than one name) that it got a little confusing until you sorted them all out. The informal writing style didn't help in this regard, and the author hopped around a lot from character to character (much like banter at a poker game). But as the book progressed it got more cohesive. Otherwise, great job, and I'll be looking to see how Clare does in other books.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, Fast-Paced, and Fun Sept. 22 2012
By Debra Purdy Kong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Toronto undercover cop, Clare Vengel, is posing as a rich, pro poker player wannabe to find out who's been strangling players. With three people dead (one her predecessor) Clare needs to find answers fast before her cover's blown and she becomes the latest victim. But it isn't easy. Poker players are suspicious and experts at lying. Complicating the situation is the new, attractive player, Nate, and the possibility that some players are cheating.

Death Plays Poker is the second in Robin Spano's series and it's fast-paced ride. The book is also filled with humor mixed with layers of angst as Clare deals with handlers who keep threatening to pull her off the case. She's also facing a growing attraction to Nate, confusion about her boyfriend back home, and news that her father is dying. These problems add depth to a character who's determined to find the killer despite her discomfort with the spoiled rich "princess" persona. Spano does a great job with multiple points of view, quick short chapters, and mounting suspense. This book has everything I love in mysteries: an interesting protagonist, humor, quick pacing, and a clever plot. I also learned something about the world of professional poker. A great read!
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