A small-town crime story about a young poker phenom and the lengths she’ll go to protect those she loves.
Good to know
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
There have been dozens of great novels about the fleeting highs of gambling—BOTM has even featured one before, recommended by none other than the great Anthony Bourdain. Most of those books feature the usual bluffs and tells, big money and big losses. This month, we’re offering a story that includes all that and a little more: a blue-collar tale of backroom card games, small-town politicking, and a talented young card shark in a whole lot of debt.
Jamie is a 19-year-old girl in upstate New York with nothing but a flair for poker and a disreputable last name (read: family drama, in spades). She dreams of going pro and getting out but spends her days working for her tyrannical uncle and trying to keep her younger brother out of trouble. Each day is as boring and gray as an Adirondack winter sky—until a poker game goes south, a gun goes off, and Jamie finds herself on the hook for a crime she didn’t commit.
There’s a death at the center of this novel, to be sure, but Blind River is as much a study in grit as it is about a murder. Jamie is the kind of plucky girl with a life story that tugs at your heartstrings and a fierceness that will leave your hands shaking each time she makes a bet. A rural story of dark woods and dark hearts, this is one book worth betting on.
Everyone says the Elders family members are nothing but cheats, thieves, and convicts―a fact 19-year-old Jamie Elders has been trying desperately to escape. She may have the natural talent of a poker savant, but her dreams of going pro and getting the hell out of the tiny town of Blind River, New York, are going nowhere fast. Especially once she lands in a huge pile of debt to her uncle Loyal.
At Loyal’s beck and call until her debt is repaid, Jamie can’t easily walk away―not with her younger brother Toby left at his mercy. So when Loyal demands Jamie’s help cleaning up a mess late one night, she has no choice but to agree. But disposing of a dead man and covering up his connection to the town’s most powerful judge goes beyond family duty. When it comes out that the victim was a beloved athlete and Loyal pins the murder on Toby, only Jamie can save him. But with a dogged detective on her trail and her own future at stake, she’ll have to decide: embrace her inner criminal, or defy it―and face the consequences.
East Boston , MA
Jamie. I miss her. I really loved how different this story was to any other story I’ve read. It incorporated such truth with describing Jamie’s family. I bet most people relate more than you think!
Fort collins, CO
This book broke my heart as it showed the vicious cycle many people from broken homes find themselves in and how kids who are born in that type of environment often don’t stand a chance. Great story.
Sterling Heights, MI
I read this in one day. The lead character was very strong, although flawed, which made her realistic and sympathetic. You rooted for her to come out on top. Not my typical choice, but enjoyed it.
I couldn't help but root for the siblings. The main character was very strong yet vulnerable. I couldn't put it down because I had to find out what happened next! I would love to see this as a movie!
Although the small town bad guy is obvious from the start, you root for Jamie to overcome her history and get out of that lifestyle even though she isn't exactly a saint either. A solid, quick read.
I'm shocked by the low amount of "love" reactions to this book. A really easy and interesting read. I liked how the author left the ending. You make your own assumptions as to what happens.
Well written book. Wished the story was a little more detailed. I was left with a few questions about the characters and their back stories. Other than that, I thought this was a good book.
I absolutely loved this book. I have been a pretty avid poker player over the last few years so this instantly captured my attention. Add in the thriller portion and I was won over.
What the prose was lacking truly was made up with the plot of this novel. A great look into the complex world of the protagonist, and the description of poker was fascinating!
Janesville , WI
It has been a while but I really flew through this book. I was drawn in by the young woman in this book and was left guessing as to what would happen. Always a good sign.
I LIKED IT... IT WAS DEFINITELY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT IVE READ THUS FAR. I LOVE THE STRONG FEMALE PROTAGANIST AND THE JOURNEY SHE TAKES TO DETERMINE WHAT FAMILY MEANS TO HER.
This book was a huge page turner for me. I loved the risky mystery side and the strong female roll. It was a great read and I would recommend this book to my friends.
Great read right from the first page. There are so many unexpected twists in this book, the ending is a big surprise. Well written and kept my interest throughout.
Great character study about what it means to grow up poor and with limited options. The book touched my heart and made me grateful for the life I've had.
I always enjoy these novels where characters have to really dig into themselves and find strength to deal with difficult circumstances. Very good read
A potential movie, I say., Easy 5⭐️ no doubt., There isn't so much words to explain how much I loved reading this book, so I'll leave it at that.,
I wasn't sure how well I was going to like this book at first but by the end, I was very impressed with this writer's first book. Suspenseful, too.
This was a very impressive debut novel. Both the characters and the plot were well-developed. It was just an overall quick and entertaining read.
I really enjoyed this book, especially the details on the poker games played. Her relationship with her brother was touching too.
Loved it! Was hooked right away which I like. Some books take till the end for me, but I couldn’t put the book down.