Johnny had been to the top. Young and slick, he knew how to play the high roller, dress the part, and make his opponents sweat. He’d ridden into Vegas on a winning streak a mile wide. But Vegas took everything, even his lucky gold tooth.
You’d think he couldn’t fall any lower than a homeless shelter full of the downtrodden. And he couldn’t possibly have anything left to lose. But you’d be wrong.
Johnny soon discovers there’s a game going on at the shelter. A game where before you play the cards you have to make them. A game where the payout is survival and folding means death. A game where the question becomes: are you playing the cards or are they playing you?
Using 52 chapters Arnzen’s novel-of-cards is stacked with mischief and thrills. Like the most accomplished blackjack dealer Arnzen will keep you guessing at his hand. Are you ready to play?
Also published in a collectible special edition from Raw Dog Screaming Press. Release also included deck of playing cards featuring custom art by Dave Liscomb.
Soon to be re-released in paperback and e-book from Raw Dog Screaming Press!
“Arnzen (Bram Stoker award-winner, Grave Markings) sets his second horror novel in a nightmarish ‘Vegas,’ where a group of desperate homeless men play an ultra-high-stakes ‘Butcher Boy’ card game run by casino owner Nebo Tarrochi. To qualify for the game, each player must create a suit of cards based on lurid photographs of dead people, and this cautionary tale grows sticky with relentless gore as the victims pile up.”
“This novel does indeed work as hardboiled crime fiction, but has a layer of brutality and undercurrent of the supernatural that makes it work for horror fans, too. Imagine David Mamet doing an episode of Tales from the Crypt, Scorcese in the Twilight Zone, that sort of feel. And the horror in the novel is genuine. Though the central characters are archetypal, they are richly drawn and you find yourself genuinely concerned about them (Gin in particular). Despite the pulpy feel, the existential questions put forth by the novel give it a real gravity.”
—Jeremy Robert Johnson for Dark Discoveries
“Broken down into fifty-two chapters, Play Dead is sure to appeal to both card players and horror fans alike.”
—Chizine & SFReader
2 editions First published in 2005
June 2005, Raw Dog Screaming PressPlay Dead
Hardcover in English
2013, Raw Dog Screaming PressPlay Dead