Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lucky Dog

Suppose you were an enthusiastic but chronically losing poker player. Then suppose that, through a series of odd events, you took in a dog--not just any old dog, but one that could talk, so that only you could understand. (To everybody else, it sounds like normal dog vocalizations.) And further suppose that the dog's exquisite sensitivity to the nonverbal signs of human emotions suddenly gave you a means to know with absolutely certainty when your poker opponents were strong or bluffing.

That, in short, is the premise behind Mark Barrowcliffe's delightful novel, Lucky Dog. My brother gave it to me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I read it then, loved it, and am now most of the way through it for a second time. It's well-written, funny, clever, insightful.

To be fair, the poker element is kind of a sidelight to the main plot, but since I figure that's the hook for most of my readers, I thought I would lead with it. Even so, you'd have to be pretty hard-hearted not to enjoy pretty much every page of this story.

It's extremely British. Every page or two I find myself wondering what some peculiar word or phrase means. You will be reminded of that old saw about us being divided by a common language. But it's a delightful read nevertheless. And, even better, you can buy a used copy from for just one penny (see here)!

Highly recommended.

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