All it takes is a few underhanded moves by a tough ex-cop named Eppick to pull thief John Dortmunder into a game he never wanted to play. With no choice, he musters his always-game gang and they set out on a perilous treasure hunt for a long-lost gold and jewel-studded chess set once intended as a birthday gift for the last Romanov czar, which unfortunately reached Russia after that party was over. From the moment Dortmunder reaches for his first pawn, he faces insurmountable odds. The purloined past of this precious set is destined to confound any strategy he finds on the board. Success is not inevitable with John Dortmunder leading the attack, but he's nothing if not persistent, and some gambit or other might just stumble into a winning move.
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Donald E. Westlake (Author)
Richard Stark (1933–2008), wrote dozens of novels under his own name and a rainbow of other pseudonyms. Many of his books have been adapted for film, most notably The Hunter, which became the 1967 noir Point Blank and the 1999 smash Payback.