Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: 'Pokergeist' by Michael Phillip Cash

New York author Michael Phillip Cash has a rich imagination, a gift that comes from being grounded and secure with life as being lived. That he is able from that strong stance to create stories embellishes his evident gifts as a writer. In his debut novel BROOD X and in STILLWELL he was able to create a terrifying tales out of things seen or magnify things seen to become ghastly distortions of credible possibilities. In THE HANGING TREE, he took a step further in the arena of ghosts, and if the reader wants current thought on the subject, the following is an encyclopedic comment: `Ghosts have been a popular subject for millennia, appearing in countless stories, from "Macbeth" to the Bible, and even spawning their own folklore genre: ghost stories. Ghosts are perhaps the most common paranormal belief in the world. Part of the reason is that belief in ghosts is part of a larger web of related paranormal beliefs, including near-death experience, life after death, and spirit communication. The idea that the dead remain with us in spirit is an ancient one, and one that offers many people comfort: who doesn't want to believe that our beloved but deceased family members aren't looking out for us, or with us in our times of need? Most people believe in ghosts because of personal experience; they have seen or sensed some unexplained presence.' Cash left this world of ghosts for another diversion - his Trilogy THE DARRACIA SAGA - in which he created a sci-fi exploration that for this reader, who has read all of his novels, is a less successful series. Gratefully he returned to a territory he owns - supernatural ghost stories like his THE FLIP. THE AFTER HOUSE carried the aroma of Melville, Conrad, and other writers who have made the sea a principal character. Then he moved his tent into another realm - the arena of witches. And out came WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM and yet another leap of faith in to historical fiction - and in selecting this title he plays with words in a way that produces a chuckle.

And if you are a died in the wool Michael Phillip Cash fan you'll go with him any where - and here he brings us another realm of quasi paranormal stories about ghosts: from the title you know he has maintained his keen sense of humor. This 10th novel - POKERGEIST - does not demand that you know boo bots about poker (this reader doesn't but that certainly didn't diminish the pleasure of Michael's outing this time). It is just a solid little story full of some terrific twists and turns that keep you glued to the book for an evening's read.

The synopsis: `Sometimes life, as well as death, is about second chances. Luckless Telly Martin doesn't have a clue. An awful gambler trying to scrape by as a professional poker player, he becomes the protégé of world famous poker champion Clutch Henderson. The only catch...Clutch is a ghost. Telly and Clutch must navigate the seedy gambling underbelly of Las Vegas learning to trust each other in order to win the elusive International Series of Poker, repair their shattered personal relationships and find redemption in this life and the hereafter.'

If you're just discovering Michael Phillip Cash, welcome aboard - you will love his writing and his mind. If you are a hardcore fan, this book will in no way disappoint - and you may even learn about poker! Grady Harp, July 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.