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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Hangman's Game

Hangman's Game

A Nick Gallow Mystery

Bill Syken

Minotaur Books

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After losing his starting position as a college quarterback to a shoulder injury, Nick Gallow has remade himself as a punter. Now in his fifth year in the pros with the Philadelphia Sentinels, Nick spends most of his time on the sidelines. He no longer makes winning plays, and when the team visits a hospital, the sick kids would rather talk to the players they've actually heard of. But Nick is unexpectedly thrust back into the spotlight when he witnesses the murder of the new all-star draft pick on the eve of the team's summer minicamp.

Nick has no plans to get involved. Despite the murder, his focus is squarely on an uppity rookie player eyeing his roster spot. But after a second attack hits closer to home and the police go after the wrong man, Nick finds himself driven by the chance to be a hero again.

In Hangman's Game, Syken offers a seasoned sportswriter's take on the contemporary culture of football and the will to play on despite the game's toll on the body and mind.

CHAPTER 1



I FIGURED IT OUT ONCE. I calculated the time I spend actually performing the task that gives my job its title, and it came out to fifty-one minutes per year. Not even an hour. And that calculation is generous, believe...

Praise for Hangman's Game

“A pro football murder mystery complete with tight plotting, ample suspense, a touch of the tawdry and wry humor.” —Sports Illustrated Magazine

“Equal parts football and whodunit — and equally well-executed — Hangman’s Game marks a splendid debut, not only for Syken but also for Nick, a complex, driven and appealing character who seems destined to make the athlete-gumshoe hall of fame.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Author Syken, a veteran Sports Illustrated editor, nails the pro-football milieu. His mystery is also spot-on. He engages a moody, lonely protagonist in a very complex mystery in which nothing is as it seems, at least until the conclusion, when Gallow and the reader can see it very clearly in the rearview mirror. This is the very best sports-themed mystery in years and a robust debut novel. Don't miss it.” —Booklist, starred review

“For sports fans and mystery lovers, Hangman's Game is the go-to-book for the football season. It has all the prerequisites for a great read: football, murder, an anti-hero and a hulking jock, interwoven with plot twists that will make the reader sure they know who's guilty, only to find yet another suspect. This book is a good first effort; it's tightly written and keeps the reader's interest.” —RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)

“Sportswriter Syken's fiction debut takes you inside the world of a pro football punter... Syken's dialogue goes down as smoothly as one of the cocktails Nick's training regimen forbids, and… More…

“A pro football murder mystery complete with tight plotting, ample suspense, a touch of the tawdry and wry humor.” —Sports Illustrated Magazine

“Equal parts football and whodunit — and equally well-executed — Hangman’s Game marks a splendid debut, not only for Syken but also for Nick, a complex, driven and appealing character who seems destined to make the athlete-gumshoe hall of fame.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Author Syken, a veteran Sports Illustrated editor, nails the pro-football milieu. His mystery is also spot-on. He engages a moody, lonely protagonist in a very complex mystery in which nothing is as it seems, at least until the conclusion, when Gallow and the reader can see it very clearly in the rearview mirror. This is the very best sports-themed mystery in years and a robust debut novel. Don't miss it.” —Booklist, starred review

“For sports fans and mystery lovers, Hangman's Game is the go-to-book for the football season. It has all the prerequisites for a great read: football, murder, an anti-hero and a hulking jock, interwoven with plot twists that will make the reader sure they know who's guilty, only to find yet another suspect. This book is a good first effort; it's tightly written and keeps the reader's interest.” —RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)

“Sportswriter Syken's fiction debut takes you inside the world of a pro football punter... Syken's dialogue goes down as smoothly as one of the cocktails Nick's training regimen forbids, and he spins a series of nifty scenes.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Former Sports Illustrated reporter Syken makes his fiction debut with this well-told first in a football-themed mystery series... Syken really nails the world of professional football, including the training camp competition between Nick and a rival rookie punter, as well as the violence, conspicuous consumption, and tragic endings endemic to the sport.” —Publishers Weekly

“Smart, original and completely entertaining! The sports-savvy Bill Syken scores big with this winning debut… just like an important game, it's about heart, and loyalty, and money, and obsession--and what happens to those who break the rules.” —Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author

“Former Sports Illustrated reporter Syken knows the cutthroat business that is professional football and brings it vividly to life in this engaging debut mystery. Nick is a great character, with insecurities and foibles that ring true for players at this elite level. A lot of humor leavens the suspense. Fans of Tim Green or Harlan Coben's "Myron Bolitar" series will definitely want to catch this one.” —Library Journal

“In Hangman's Game, the most marginalized of all sports figures finally gets a turn on center stage. Syken unfurls the hilariously narrow professional life of punter Nick Gallow amid a murder that rocks his team. The resulting twists and turns are as riveting as overtime in a playoff game.” —David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of The Sports Gene

“Syken's story is fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest. What strikes me most is the clever balancing act between the mystery and football stories. Armchair quarterbacks will love this book, but so will mystery fans who don't know a punt from a kickoff.” —T.T. Monday, author of The Setup Man

“A drive-by murder pinned on a flamboyant pro football star with a questionable past? Sure, it sounds far-fetched. But in the deft hands of Bill Syken, it is as likely as a Bill Belichick two-word answer at a Monday morning presser. The veteran sportswriter makes a splashy mystery debut, transforming his insider's eye into vivid prose, and turning Nick Gallow from punter into gumshoe without switching cleats. Read Hangman's Game and you will never underestimate the importance of special teams again!” —Bill Scheft, author of The Ringer and Shrink Thyself

“Author Syken, a veteran Sports Illustrated editor, nails the pro-football milieu. His mystery
is also spot-on. He engages a moody, lonely protagonist in a very complex mystery in which nothing is as
it seems, at least until the conclusion, when Gallow and the reader can see it very clearly in the rearview
mirror. This is the very best sports-themed mystery in years and a robust debut novel. Don't miss it” —Booklist, starred review

Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Bill Syken

After reporting for several newspapers, BILL SYKEN spent eight years as a staff reporter and editor at Sports Illustrated, where he continues to work as a writer and editor for its books division. He earned a B.A. in English from Columbia University and a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri. He lives in Philadelphia. Hangman's Game is his first novel.

Bill Syken

Criminalelement.com

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