Wild Cards 7, written by George R. R. Martin and John J. Miller is one of the best Wild Cards books so far. Eventhough I don't generally like the mosaic novels, this is a prime example on how it should be done.
It's possible that it is so succesful because there are only two writers, which clearly helps the pace. And ofcourse, the fact that half the book is written by my favorite writer George R. R. Martin, speaks for itself.
Dead Man's Hand is a 'parallel novel' to Wild Cards VI: Ace in the Hole. It follows a plotline that was mentioned in WC6, but not exploared - Chrysalis's murder, and the attempts by Martin's Jay 'Popinjay' Acroyd and Miller's 'Yeoman' Brennan to find the killer.
Popinjay, previously meerely a secondary character, proves to be a classic Martin hero - witty, clever and seemingly superficial, there is more to him than meets the eye, although that is only revealed slowly. I must admit I was disappointed that we won't see the Turtle in this story, but Jay was a suitable compensation.
Yeoman was a different story. Although I have allways liked him, his new love affair with Jennifer 'Wraith' Maloy, is not only unlikely but uninteresting, unlike his past relation with Chrysalis. Now Brennan is little but your average action hero running aroung beating people up and delivering one liners.
As a mystery, the novel works rather well. Certainly the identity of the killer is unexpected. On the other hand, the authors don't quite let you feel this is a Mystery novel - you're too focused on the action/thrilelr plots resolving the story of T-Malice, the master that enslaved so many Wild Cards characters, and the Shadow Fist gang - who try to benefit from Chrysalis's murder.
One of the things I liked best about this novel was the focus on jokers. Although the heros are an ace and a nat, there are more Jokers active in this Wild Cards novel than in any other, many of them showing strength and courage. The Wild Cards series tends to focus on Aces, but I personnaly like the Jokers at least as much, and quite possibly more. The dark side of the Virus, so to speak, can be more fascinating than the more obvious Superhero stuff.
Overall Dead Man's Hand is a thrilling ride, filled with action, advanture, cool ideas, and an extremely powerful climax, in which there is a confrontation between several major characters. The confrontation at the end is one of the Wild Cards' strongest moments, and this novel certainly holds up there with DOWN AND DIRTY, as the best of the Wild Cards so far.