The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack


Cold Poker Gang

Cold Poker Gang


3 Calling Dead by Dean Wesley Smith

Do not read this book while eating! That’s not a joke. There are some truly disturbing images evoked in these pages as the Cold Poker Gang tackles a horrific cold case involving the deaths of 11 women some fifteen years earlier. Two of the members of the club worked on the original case and got nowhere. They still have nightmares over what they found. Now they have a chance to take another crack at the case with the aid of some high-powered computers to help search for similar crimes. Because that’s the real horror—shortly into their investigation, they realize that the 11 women they found were only the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of novels by Smith over the years, but I think these mysteries are his real calling. The characters are great, the crimes, gripping, and the unraveling of the cases truly exciting. I’m on to the next one.

In Order

1 Kill Game by Dean Wesley Smith

I’ve had the pleasure of reading several Dean Wesley Smith novels over the past twenty or more years. He’s written some SF, some Spiderman, and some Star Trek—always providing a good yarn. But after reading Kill Game, I realized that his true vocation as an author is writing excellent mysteries filled with surprises and interesting characters.

Kill Game is gripping from the first pages. The Cold Poker Gang, a group of retired police detectives, picks up cold cases and tries to resolve them. This time they’re looking into the long-ago murder of the husband of one of their members. I don’t want to want to give away any of the wonderful surprises, but every time you turn around in this story, Smith throws you for another loop in this simply wonderful tale.

I’m so glad he’s written more of them.

2 Cold Call by Dean Wesley Smith

I absolutely loved the first book in this series—so much so that I was nervous about trying book number two because it would be so difficult for Smith to write a sequel worthy of the original. And yet he comes very close to pulling it off by having the wisdom to write a different kind of story. Instead of presenting his retired detectives with an old-fashioned mystery, he gives them a problem they resolve in a manner that is reminiscent of the old movie The Sting. I’m not saying that they create a con, but they do lay a trap that is designed to bring a very clever serial murder out into the light of day.

The bulk of the book is almost a police procedural. They find a body that they have reason to believe might be the victim of the serial murderer and that body almost immediately leads them to a ghastly treasure trove of other victims. Realizing the opportunity this creates for them, they set apart laying a trap that they hope will provide justice for a startlingly high number of victims. It’s no Kill Game, but it is a very good story.