Cowards Die Many Times by Robert J Randisi from On Dangerous Ground: Stories of Western Noir

On Dangerous Ground Ed Gorman Dave Zeltserman Martin H. Greenberg Cemetery DanceReviewed by Charlie Stella

Old New York, Bat Masterson, Damon Runyon and Arnold Rothstein (with a cameo by James M. Cain) are featured in a tale named for a line from Shakespeare. A poker game that turns into a bloodbath with a hitch; was former cop Val O’Farrell the target or one lucky S.O.B. when a gunman (or gunmen) came calling?

The trail from post apocalyptic poker game through the private investigation by O’Farrell (with Masterson’s help) is both intriguing and fun (especially for native New Yorkers familiar with the turf) as the mystery unfolds through visits with potential leads. The ex-pug who called O’Farrell away from the game just in the nick of time (or was it coincidence?) turns up dead shortly thereafter and it eventually leads back to a woman the ex-cop/now private investigator has been seeing.

What happens once some of the mystery is sorted out left this reader a little baffled as the end seemeda bit too sudden and somewhat unexplained, but getting there was the fun in this tale of murder run awry.

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