Benedict Sarkissian is a young San Francisco poker player of awesome natural skill: trained by his Armenian grandfather (a...

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DEUCES WILD

Benedict Sarkissian is a young San Francisco poker player of awesome natural skill: trained by his Armenian grandfather (a coin dealer) in the Zen of the game, Ben is unbeatable, rising quickly until he plays only with the very high rollers. Highest of all--and his most eminent victim yet--is trillionaire banker Alex Van Heeren; when they first meet and play, Ben cunningly loses--with Van Heeren winning in such a way as to know, humiliatingly, that he was allowed to win, in a ""kind of poker game. . . without cards. Just the two of us, a head-to-head test. He raises and I match him, every time."" So Van Heeren seeks to neutralize Ben any way he can: ceding over his mistress Calliope to the young man; staking him to profitable currency deals; always trying to bring him under a debtor's control. And Ben's response is cool and considered. But then he falls in chaste love with Van Heeren's adolescent daughter Jamaica --at which point Van Heeren, enraged, throws the gears abruptly into reverse and vows to bring Ben down. LentÉric, a screenwriter, is surprisingly stingy with poker scenes here, relying instead on progressively shorter snippets--of world-hopping, wealth-hobnobbing, and movie-like newspaper headlines (""IS SARKISSIAN HISTORY'S BIGGEST CHEAT?""). But while this lurid jumpiness lends visual flair in French film noir style, with strong glimpses of jetsetting lives, the result is ultimately a slight, hackneyed non-thriller, very short on credibility.

Pub Date: May 20, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Coward-McCann

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983