Written by author Michael Kardos— Reading Bluff brings to mind Christopher Nolan’s movie of feuding magicians, The Prestige. In it there’s a scene explaining the three stages of a magic trick. First comes The Pledge. This is the starting point of the trick, and gives the audience some idea of what may happen – a watch may disappear, the identity of a card chosen from the pack may be magically revealed to the audience, and so on.

Why read it? – One of the best, most original crime novels of the year, taking us places we’ve rarely been before in the world of crime fiction, the world of ordinary working magicians, sleight of hand card tricks, card sharks and gambling. It’s the combination that’s quite original and Kardos has done his research -or else has invaluable experience in his past – because the depiction of these disparate worlds is completely believable throughout,including the motivations of the characters and the quite surprising twist at the end – which I didn’t see coming, but once it arrived it made perfect sense – one of the most important criteria for a truly great crime novel. As Megan Abbott , Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me has said, ” Bluff is a masterly exercise in narrative sleight of hand. This is suspense in its purest form .” Bluff was such a refreshing read because it was so different from my usual fare, a true cleansing of the pallet, which left my faith in crime fiction restored and renewed. A resounding five stars. .

Capsule Review (from the publisher’s blurb).

At twenty-seven, Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she performed on the world magic circuit at eighteen but a liaison with an older performer ended disastrously after he stole her act and blackened her name. With her career over, she now lives alone with her pigeons and a pile of overdue bills in a New Jersey apartment.

To make ends meet, Natalie agrees to write a magazine article on the art of cheating at cards. While researching in Atlantic City, she meets Ellen – a beguiling card cheat with a dazzling sleight of hand. Ellen has targeted a group of gamblers called the Midnight Riders – a hedge fund manager, a car dealer mogul and a Senatorial candidate – who play an annual high-dollar poker game.

Ellen proposes that they combine their skills to pull off the greatest illusion of all and walk away with $1.5 million.

But the rules of the game are about to change…

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