Scarne may have an ear for wooden dialogue, but he also has a superb knack for card and magic tricks that will keep most readers mesmerized into the middle hours of the morning. (Scarne is world-famous for Scarne on Cards. Scarne on Dice and Scarne's Complete Guide to Gambling, and is working on a world encyclopedia of games.) Never modest, he was at 17 perhaps the world's, most proficient card trickster (ten hours practice daily) and included such flashy routines as a two foot accordion spring from palm to palm and turning over a deck stretched along his arm. But these are mere bravura competed with the utterly mystifying card tricks he scatters by the dozen through every chapter. Like the American Boy working out exhibitionist fantasies, he trained before a giant three-way mirror at home until a trick was done so skillfully that he couldn't spot its subterfuge himself (and often until his hands were bloody). After the death of his great friend Harry Houdini, Scarne billed himself as the world's greatest living magician and issued a blanket challenge to the world's magicians for a duel of tricks. Because of his fabulous dexterity and technical command of all areas of magic and illusion, his challenge went unaccepted (Scarne can even stop his heartbeat at will). Flowering during the Capone era, he became a master gambler and the cohort of big-time gambling lords. Though he refuses to cheat, he is barred at Las Vegas casinos.... Remembering the success of the Houdini book and The Green Felt Jungle, the odds are not against him. In fact it may be a stacked deck.