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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superstition and Addiction
Lord Doyle, not a lord at all but rather a corrupt lawyer who sponged funds from a client and then went on the run, finds himself in Macau, haunting the gambling dens and casinos, playing baccarat and, like most gamblers losing more money than he wins. When he meets Dao-Ming, a beautiful and enigmatic woman, his luck takes a turn for the better and suddenly the cards...
Published 6 months ago by Gregory S. Buzwell

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever & Claustrophobic
Fire cracker prose makes this book a compulsive read. The adrenalin ride of professional gambling is beautifully captured and you live every bet at the baccarat tables with 'Lord Doyle'. Little in the way of plot, and characterisation a little weak, but overall a compelling book.
Published 4 months ago by R. Elliott


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superstition and Addiction, 13 April 2014
By 
Gregory S. Buzwell "bagpuss007" (London) - See all my reviews
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Lord Doyle, not a lord at all but rather a corrupt lawyer who sponged funds from a client and then went on the run, finds himself in Macau, haunting the gambling dens and casinos, playing baccarat and, like most gamblers losing more money than he wins. When he meets Dao-Ming, a beautiful and enigmatic woman, his luck takes a turn for the better and suddenly the cards begin to fall in his favour. The stakes become ever higher, and the money floods in but is there, at the end of the line, a price still to be paid?

As several reviewers have mentioned Osborne's writing style, and indeed his central character in The Ballad of a Small Player, are reminiscent of Graham Greene at his finest. There is much of Greene's clipped elegance about the prose together with that sense of desperation and futility being an almost tangible part of the landscape. Lord Doyle with his strangely likeable air of cynicism and his ability to remain a gentleman (almost) no matter what fate throws in his direction also owes something to Greene's whisky priests, over-looked bureaucrats and faded gangsters. Everything in the book is narrated from Lord Doyle's perspective and as the story progresses we genuinely grow to care what happens to this, at heart, rather shabby individual.

There is, as you would expect from a novel with gambling at its core, a great deal in the book about luck and addiction. In particular the inability of the desperate gambler to leave a table either when he is winning or when he is losing is brilliantly highlighted. When she's against you Lady Luck has to be charmed and pursued; when she's with you there is an obligation to make the most of her affections. Either way you can't leave her alone. There is also, at its core, a beautiful, enigmatic ghost story in the book. Just who is Dao-Ming? What are the secrets of her past and what is the relationship between luck, fate, chance and the supernatural?

The Ballad of a Small Player is only just over 200 pages long but it is far from a simple tale about one man and his fascination with gambling. There's a real depth to the characters, situations and ideas as well as a real elegance to the prose. It is, I suspect, a book that would reward repeated re-readings. It's terrific stuff, and one of the most fascinating books I have read for quite a while. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it, never forget it, 8 April 2014
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
I bought The Ballad of a Small Player while on holiday in Hong Kong and after a weekend in Macau.

Laid low by a virulent case of bronchitis from the return flight to UK, I settled down to read it and completed it (literally) in one feverish sitting.

A great story, with brilliant atmospheric descriptions of Macau, Hong Kong and Lamma Island. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever & Claustrophobic, 5 Jun 2014
By 
R. Elliott "Rellio" (Dursley, Glos. UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
Fire cracker prose makes this book a compulsive read. The adrenalin ride of professional gambling is beautifully captured and you live every bet at the baccarat tables with 'Lord Doyle'. Little in the way of plot, and characterisation a little weak, but overall a compelling book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Winner about a loser, 7 Aug 2014
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IF you’ve ever gambled or fought the demon booze and lost heroically, Lawrence Osborne’s latest will leave you breathless with recognition. This story of ‘Lord Doyle’, an on-the-run fraudster who’s blowing his stolen stash in the casinos of Macau, will strike a terrifying chord with some readers, and sweep the rest along with style and power.

Doyle’s self-destruction, and salvation at the hands of a Chinese hooker, has you itching for a happy ending, but feelings of dread and despair are sowed early.

Osborne’s descriptions of Macau and it’s lurid gambling joints, packed with smoke, fallen gwai lo and self-made tycoons, and the fading glory of its imperial past, make you want to jump on the next plane out with your life savings in a suitcase…especially if you enjoy a flutter. If you’ve never been there you’ll feel like you’ve lived in the old Portuguese colony all your life.

But what a tale! The Ballad of a Small Player will screw up your guts with anxiety for Doyle, fill you with hope then kick you hard in the nethers all in one well-weighted read. And in the end it will spook you, too.

No need to gamble, it’s an absolute winner of a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5***** from me, 25 May 2014
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A fantastic read! The ending really knocked the stuffing out of me!!! Loved it! ..... So impressed, ive ordered Bangkok Days! .... And if its as good,i will plough through the rest of Lawrence Osbournes collection. ;)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing with Fate, 19 May 2014
By 
R. G. Dickson (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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Great story, with a very visual and atmospheric portait of a gambler admist the glamour and seediness of Macao. This haunting tale is very oriental and written by someone who obviously loves Asia, from it's gutters to it's chandeliers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but..., 15 May 2014
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
Interesting, and good to begin with but then becomes a bit repetitive; although good very good observations of characters and a 'secret' world of gambling. But ultimately not very satisfying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The world of the casino, 18 April 2014
By 
Mrs. Joan A. Clinch (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
This book gives a clear description of the world of serious gambling and financial ruin. Do not be put of by this, the book, like gambling is compulsive. It is a good story of the seemy world of the far East and the fortunes, or lack of them, of one compulsive gambler. An excellent read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it., 21 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
A really gripping novel - convincingly informative and increasingly thought-provoking as it uneasily dawns on you that things may not be quite as they seem. I loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enjoyable, 28 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Ballad of a Small Player (Kindle Edition)
Extremely enjoyable read
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The Ballad of a Small Player
The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne
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