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Billy Phelan, a slightly tarnished poker player, pool hustler, and small-time bookie, moves through the lurid nighttime glare of a tough Depression-era town. A resourceful man full of Irish pluck, Billy works the fringes of Albany sporting life with his own particular style and private code of honor until he finds himself in the dangerous position of potential go-between in the kidnapping of a political boss's son. In relating Billy's fall from the underworld grace and his storybook redemption, Kennedy captures the seamy underside of a brassy, sweaty city that would prefer to pretend that the Depression doesn't exist.

William Kennedy was born and raised in Albany, New York. His Albany Cycle of novels is recognised as one of the great achievements of postwar American literature, and includes LEGS, BILLY PHELAN'S GREATEST GAME, IRONWEED, VERY OLD BONES, QUINN'S BOOK and the FLAMING CORSAGE.

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