Playing Games

Playing Games

Illustration By Charles Pyle
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Dust jacket illustration by Charles S. Pyle


Whether it’s child’s play or for the highest stakes, whether we stick to the rules or cheat, we all play games — for fun, for thrills, for love or money, to prove we’re the best or make an opponent knuckle under. And the games we play, with cards or dice or nothing but our wits, reveal something deeply personal about the players.

In this powerful new anthology, Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Lawrence Block has assembled an all-star team for the ultimate game night. Sit down at the checkerboard with S.A. Cosby, assemble jigsaw puzzles with David Morrell, or play marbles for the fate of the world with Joe R. Lansdale. In Jeffery Deaver’s hands, an innocent game of Candyland takes twists the Parker Brothers could never have imagined. Science-fiction grandmaster Robert Silverberg uncovers painful truths about destiny while betting on the turtle races in a Caribbean resort. And Lawrence Block himself out-Hitchcocks Hitchcock with his classic story of murder victims swapped by strangers on a handball court.

From hide-and-seek to Russian roulette, from mahjong to Mouse Trap, it’s a game lover’s dream — but beware: your turn is coming, and while winning isn’t everything, sometimes losing can be deadly…

Limited: 750 numbered copies signed by the editor


From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“David Morrell shines with the subtle and creepy ‘The Puzzle Master,’ in which a couple become addicted to jigsaw puzzles by a particular artist, only to find potentially ominous clues linking disparate bucolic scenes. The wide range of stories and games in them begs for a sequel.”


Table of Contents:

  • Shut Up and Deal (an introduction) — Lawrence Block
  • Seek and You Will Find — Patricia Abbott
  • Game Over — Charles Ardai
  • King’s Row — S. A. Cosby
  • The Babysitter — Jeffery Deaver
  • Paladin — Tod Goldberg
  • Psychiatrist — Jane Hamilton
  • Knock — James D. F. Hannah
  • With the Right Bait — Gar Anthony Haywood
  • Two Norths, Two Souths, Two East, Two West, Two Reds, Two Whites, and Two Greens — Elaine Kagan
  • A Crokinole Tale — Avri Klemer
  • Red Billie — Joe R. Lansdale
  • Lightning Round — Warren Moore
  • The Puzzle Master — David Morrell
  • Challenge Cube — Kevin Quigley
  • A Tip on a Turtle — Robert Silverberg
  • Chance — Wallace Stroby
  • Strangers on a Handball Court — Lawrence Block


Charles Pyle
Lawrence Block