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The Ballad of a Small Player

A Novel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A riveting tale of risk and obsession set in the alluring world of Macau’s casinos, by the author of the critically acclaimed The Forgiven.
As night falls on Macau and the neon signs that line the rain-slick streets come alive, Doyle – “Lord Doyle” to his fellow players – descends into his casino of choice to try his luck at the baccarat tables that are the anchor of his current existence. A corrupt English lawyer who has escaped prosecution by fleeing to the East, Doyle spends his nights drinking and gambling and his days sleeping off his excesses, continually haunted by his past. Taking refuge in a series of louche and dimly lit hotels, he watches his fortune rise and fall as the cards decide his fate.
In a moment of crisis he meets Dao-Ming, an enigmatic Chinese woman who appears to be a denizen of the casinos just like himself, and seems to offer him salvation in the form of both money and love. But as Doyle attempts to make a rare and true connection, all that he accepts as reality seems to be slipping from his grasp. 
Resonant of classics by Dostoevsky and Graham Greene, The Ballad of a Small Player is a timeless tale steeped in eerie suspense and rich atmosphere.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 03, 2014 – The latest from author and journalist Osborne (The Forgiven) is a searing portrait of addiction and despair set in the glittering world of Macau’s casinos. “Lord Doyle,” as he’s known to the other gamblers, is an English lawyer who has embezzled from a client and fled to Asia. Doyle spends his days and nights playing baccarat, which he calls “a game of ecstasy and doom.” At the tables he drinks fine wine, handles his cards wearing kid gloves, and slowly but surely loses. Doyle’s descriptions of the tables, the players, and the game’s siren allure are by turns touching, acid, and depressing. A fellow gamer has eyes that reveal “worlds of private pain.” A particularly garish casino inspires Doyle to muse, “There is something in kitsch that reminds you there is more to being alive than being alive.” But Doyle’s jaundiced eye barely masks his monstrous compulsion; indeed, the novel’s energetic portrait of the highs and lows of a gambler’s fortunes are as good as anything in the literature of addiction. Just when it seems Doyle’s luck may have at last run out, he’s rescued by Dao-Ming, a beautiful prostitute, whose genuine concern for him seems to rouse Doyle from his dissipation and downward spiral. But the novel subverts an easy storybook ending and reveals something much bleaker. Osborne’s intriguing Chinese milieu and exquisite prose mark this work as a standout.

Customer Reviews

Gambling to the bitter end

A story about a crooked lawyer that steals the savings of a widow and gambles it away in Macau.At times,wryly humorous,surprisingly romantic,but mostly bleak,Ballad of a Small Player was a pleasure to read.

The Ballad of a Small Player
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Apr 01, 2014
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings