Your name's Joe Marlin, but you change it almost as often as you change your shirt. It's David Gavilan when you skip a hotel bill and head for Atlantic City. You left empty-handed, and you need luggage to check into a decent hotel, so you grab two checked bags before the owner turns up to claim them. They're monogrammed L.K.B.—so now your name is Leonard K. Blake.
But you're not the only L.K.B. in Atlantic City. L. Keith Brassard is the owner of those suitcases you picked up, and he's also the husband of the gorgeous blonde who picked you up. One suitcase is full of his clothes, and his pants are too big in the waist and too short in the leg and no good to you at all. But however different the two of you may be built, you've got the same neck size and the same sleeve length, so the man's shirts fit you just fine.
And so does his wife.
And when you open the second suitcase, you've got your hands full. Because it's full of white powder, and it's just what you think it is.
Your name's Joe Marlin, and you're used to playing the angles and working the short con—sleeping with married women and stealing their jewelry, beating checks in restaurants, making quick scores and disappearing, turning up miles away with a new name and the same old say of getting by. But you never met a woman like Mona Brassard, the kind of dame who gets in your blood like malaria germs. And you never had an opportunity handed to you like what you found in LKB's suitcase. Not the one with the shirts and cufflinks. The other suitcase, holding a fortune in pure skag.
You're probably in way over your head. You should probably cut and run.
But you can't, can you?
Grifter's Game was Lawrence Block's first crime novel, the first book published under his own name. A lot has changed in the half century since it first appeared—but it's still got one of the most shocking and powerful endings in all of noir fiction.
This ebook edition of Grifter's Game contains as a bonus the first chapter of another Lawrence Block noir classic, The Girl with the Long Green Heart.
Lawrence Block has been writing award-winning mystery and suspense fiction for half a century. His newest book, pitched by his Hollywood agent as "James M. Cain on Viagra," is The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes. His other recent novels include The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons, featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr; Hit Me, featuring philatelist and assassin Keller; and A Drop Of The Hard Stuff, featuring Matthew Scudder, brilliantly embodied by Liam Neeson in the new film, A Walk Among The Tombstones. Several of his other books have also been filmed, although not terribly well. He's well known for his books for writers, including the classic Telling Lies For Fun & Profit and Write For Your Life, and has just published a collection of his writings about the mystery genre and its practitioners, The Crime Of Our Lives. In addition to prose works, he has written episodic television (Tilt!) And the Wong Kar-wai film, My Blueberry Nights. He is a modest and humble fellow, although you would never guess as much from this biographical note.