Death Plays Poker by Robin Spano is the second book in the “Clare Vengel Undercover” mystery series. Publisher: ECW Press, October 2011

World class poker players are being strangled in their hotel rooms, and undercover cop Clare is given her second big assignment: to pose as a poker player in a major televised tournament, befriend the suspects, and find the killer in their midst.

Her cover role? A trust fund princess named Tiffany who thinks the poker tour is a better idea than college. Posing as Tiffany helps Clare infiltrate the tour’s inner circle, but uncovering the truth is harder than ever among people who lie for a living.

As more players fall prey to the Poker Choker and Clare’s cover comes under attack, the stakes get even higher: should Clare fold and return to her life as a dull beat cop, or go all in and prove her worth?

What a ride! Who knew playing poker could be deadly and when a fellow cop becomes a victim, Clare goes undercover and when the stakes are high, so is the killing. What a great story that kept me both intrigued and amused as the game of poker played out in the background. With an interesting cast of suspects leading the way, it was no wonder the killer’s identity escaped me throughout most of this page-turning and engaging mystery. Using each chapter to give us a character’s point of view added to the suspense of this well-played drama. This was a great read and I look forward to Clare’s next undercover assignment.

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