Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Devil's Tickets - Gary M. Pomerantz

The subtitle for this book is A Vengeful Wife, A Fatal Hand, and A New American Age. This book is an account of a sensational early 1930s murder trial of a wife accused of fatally shooting her husband over a game of bridge (a card game, hence the title - apparently "the devil's tickets" is a pejorative term for playing cards). According to the book, marital discord was rather common in bridge, since married couples often played as partners, which could cause issues if one partner felt the other was causing their team to lose, etc. I personally feel like games should be fun and not stressful, and I have no head for complicated card games - I don't have a good memory, for one thing - so I can't see any appeal to this game at all.

Also entwined in the story of the trial is that of a bridge expert, who used the trial as a publicity tool to successfully sell self-published bridge-related books and magazines. Both these stories were full of big personalities. You don't have to know how to play bridge to read or enjoy this book, but it would definitely help - I know that some of the descriptions here and there would have made more sense to me if I knew things about bridge. I most enjoyed the last third of the book, as it describes the kind of research I love to do. All in all the author really put a lot of detail into the book and it was an interesting window into the lives of people who are not well remembered now but who were nonetheless fascinating.

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