The Prop by Pete Hautman
A Novel

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National Book Award winner Pete Hautman delivers a fast-paced mystery set in the torrid, unforgiving Southwestern desert, where the stakes are sky high and all bets are off.

Peeky Kane is a prop player at an Arizona casino owned by the Santa Cruz tribe. Her job is to play poker. She makes a handsome living off the suckers who populate the card room. Life is sweet.

But something's not right at Casino Santa Cruz. When Peeky inadvertently finds herself in a fixed game and comes away a couple thousand dollars richer, she finds herself drawn unwittingly toward the dark side of professional poker. Peeky has always thought of herself as a straight shooter, but now things aren't so clear. And they're about to get a lot murkier.

When a band of clown-masked robbers makes off with millions of the casino's dollars and leaves behind four corpses, Peeky recognizes one of the robbers as a casino employee, and fears that one of her closest loved ones might also be involved. That same day, Peeky's son-in-law turns up to tell her that Jaymie, her beloved daughter, has been stealing money from Peeky for years to feed a crack habit.

Numb from these revelations, Peeky is compelled to action by an unlikely source when the most powerful member of the Santa Cruz tribe calls upon her to help him save his troubled casino. Peeky must draw on her years of reading poker faces and playing the odds to save the casino, her daughter, and herself.

About Pete Hautman

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Pete Hautman is the author of many books for young adults and adults, including the National Book Award winner Godless and The Big Crunch, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award. About The Cydonian Pyramid, he says, "I could never resist a tough, spunky, conflicted heroine. Following Lahlia through the diskos was an incredible journey. She still scares me a little." Pete Hautman splits his time between Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Published November 1, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 326 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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So far, so fine—until Hector Vega, the tribal leader who put the Santa Cruz back on the map a generation ago, takes her under his wing, offers her a new job as his own personal prop and sends her into an eminently predictable gang of high-rolling thieves, swindlers and politicians.

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Reviewing the Evidence

She shows up for work every evening at a reservation casino outside Tuscon, Arizona, and though she's paid only $110 a shift and must cover her own gambling losses, Peeky manages to make a good living through a combination of skill, luck and an ability to read her opponents.

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