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This huge book contains the original short story upon which THE POKER CLUB was based ("Out There in the Darkness"), the complete novel which was first published in 1999, and the screenplay by Rich Chizmar and Johnathon Schaech. Ed Gorman provides the introduction and you, the reader, get to see the whole story unfold in three ways. It's a classic plot, and one that was meant for Ed Gorman's take-no-prisoners style. Four buddies are playing poker when two burglars break in. One of them is killed and the other wants revenge. What would you do?
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Not all short story ideas can be stretched comfortably to fit the frame of a novel, as this tenuous expansion of Gorman's short suspense powerhouse "Out There in the Darkness" proves. The basic plot of the tale (first published as a chapbook in 1996) remains the same: four respectable suburban men learn deadly lessons in personal honesty and civic responsibility when they try covering up their accidental killing of a burglar and outwitting his vengeful accomplice. Gorman (The Day the Music Died) uses the extra elbow room to develop distinct personalities for his protagonists and evoke paranoid fears as their hitherto secure world of middle-class values grows increasingly precarious. Better still, he fleshes out the anonymous and implacable accomplice who stalks them, describing this figure as a suburban nightmare incarnate of "evil, modern evil, urban evil, of eyes that watched in the darkness, watched little children and good mothers, of eyes that coveted money and flesh and life itself." But the novel's first-person narrative limits options for sustaining the pace and pitch of the thrills. Aaron Tyler, the lawyer in whose house the killing occurred, gives muted second-hand accounts of how the experience unhinges the lives of his three friends. His own ordeal of menacing car chases, 4 a.m. phone calls and threats to his family quickly becomes repetitive and predictable. Gorman's lean, resilient prose is tough enough to hold the novel's weak patches and contrived finale together, but it can't disguise the overall thinness.
Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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