Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Superuser / Collin Moshman and Katie Dozier

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

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Authors Collin Moshman and Katie Dozier are partners in life as well as writing. Both are professional poker players and make poker training videos for competing organizations. Although Dozier majored in creative writing at Florida State University, Moshman beat her into print with three poker related books published by two of the leading publishers in that arena. Each has a website; Moshman’s TeamMoshman site is primarily concerned with poker, while Dozier’s website mixes poker and literary subjects.


“Predator,” one of poker’s new young stars, loses millions under suspicious circumstances while playing online poker. He hires disgraced poker champion and ex-cop Grisham Stark to investigate. Seeing a chance to redeem himself, Stark accepts.


Superuser is a typical suspense or thriller novel, in that it has all the elements common to the genre, including a mystery in need of a solution and a fast-paced plot. However, it is also unique, because its setting in the poker scene will be new to many readers. While this is not the first novel written by a poker professional to take place in their world, it is the first I’ve seen in this genre. While fictional, the premise, that someone has found a way to see the cards of his competitors while playing online poker, is based on a true story, with some of the techniques used to uncover and prove this was happening in real life figuring into the plot of Superuser.

I knew these authors would get the poker playing parts of the story right (something non-poker playing authors seldom manage when poker is part of their story). But I wondered how well they would be able to keep the story credible without it appearing to cross the line into non-fiction. They managed this well. I spotted two places where they used real names, once referring in passing to some of the big names in poker, and, in another instance, mentioning two of the experts in the arena of poker math and statistics (one, a coauthor of one of Moshman’s books). All other characters are fictional, with attributes that people in the sphere of competitive gaming share , but clearly not based on any specific individual. The same goes for politicians and other non-poker-playing characters. Events influencing the world of poker during the period of the actual superuser incident, mainly political, are replaced by alternate events with similar effects. The result is an alternative history: fiction that gives a realistic feel for the actual history.

I can’t imagine a poker player who wouldn’t enjoy Superuser. For non-players, it is a chance to experience a difference world vicariously.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four stars

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