Jack of Diamonds by Bryce Courtenay

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...Courtenay knows how to keep the pages turning. But he does get repetitive. It’s almost as if he was in such a hurry to write the book that he didn’t stop to read it over again...
-Toronto Star

Synopsis



Set across three continents, Jack of Diamonds is a spellbinding story of chance, music, corruption and love. 



During the Great Depression there was little hope for a boy born into the slums of Cabbagetown, Toronto. But Jack Spayd is offered a ticket out in the form of a Hohner harmonica, won by his brutal drunken father in a late-night card game. Jack makes music as a way of escaping his surroundings, and his talent leads him to a jazz club and, eventually, to the jazz piano.



Jack is a virtuoso and hits the road, enchanting audiences in Canada, wartime Europe and Las Vegas, where he is caught up in the world of elite poker and falls under the spell of his boss, the enigmatic Bridgett Fuller. Vegas is a hard town ruled by the Mafia, but Jack prospers, until his luck turns bad and he falls foul of the Mob. Forced to run for his life from Vegas, he must also leave the woman he adores. His adventuring takes him to the far reaches of Africa, to a rare and valuable bird that may seal his fate – and to the love of a very different woman.



Bryce Courtenay writes in a moving Epilogue that Jack of Diamonds will be his last novel.



If poker was an addiction then music was an overwhelming obsession; one could never replace the other in my life.
 

About Bryce Courtenay

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Bryce Courtenay was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 14, 1933. He studied journalism in London and then settled in Australia in 1958. Instead of becoming a journalist, he went into advertising and became a successful creative director. He won most of the local and international advertising awards and a gold medal for Best Documentary at the 1984 New York Film Festival. He started writing after he turned 50. His first novel, The Power of One, was adapted into a 1992 film starring Morgan Freeman and Stephen Dorff. His other novels include Jessica, The Potato Factory, Tommo and Hawk, Solomon's Song, Tandia, and Jack of Diamonds. In 1993, he wrote the non-fiction book April Fool's Day, which is a personal account of the death of his son Damon after he contracted AIDs from a routine blood transfusion. Courtenay died of stomach cancer on November 22, 2012 at the age of 79.
 
Published November 12, 2012 by e-penguin. 732 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Jack of Diamonds
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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Deborah Dundas on Jul 05 2013

...Courtenay knows how to keep the pages turning. But he does get repetitive. It’s almost as if he was in such a hurry to write the book that he didn’t stop to read it over again...

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