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Jack of Diamonds | [Bryce Courtenay]

Jack of Diamonds

Born and raised in a poor, working-class family in Toronto, Jack Spayd is the son of an unhappy marriage. After being taken under the wing of "Miss Frostbite", the owner of a local jazz club, Jack becomes a gifted musician, playing piano and harmonica. Fame and the allure of gambling takes him to Vegas, and prospects of fortune take him to the Belgian Congo, where he's heard it's possible to earn big money working in the most dangerous parts of the local copper mines.
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Publisher's Summary

Born and raised in a poor, working-class family in Toronto, Jack Spayd is the son of an unhappy marriage. After being taken under the wing of "Miss Frostbite", the owner of a local jazz club, Jack becomes a gifted musician, playing piano and harmonica. Fame and the allure of gambling takes him to Vegas, and prospects of fortune take him to the Belgian Congo, where he's heard it's possible to earn big money working in the most dangerous parts of the local copper mines.

Jack of Diamonds is the story of a young, talented man, fighting to achieve his ambitions, and having to use his considerable talents to find his way in a perilous world.

©2012 Bryce Courtenay; ©2013 Christine Courtenay (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (742 )
5 star
 (343)
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4.2 (638 )
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4.5 (641 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 10-07-14
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 10-07-14 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Good Saga. . . Long, but Enoyable"

    I have enjoyed other Courtenay books more, but this is a very good story. For me, the difference was that in his other books, I have found a female character to empathize with/relate to; and found none in this one. Jack's mother, teachers, "girl friends" and others were just fleeting characters in the story.

    Jack is bright but sure makes some crazy (aka stupid) decisions throughout the story. Nonetheless, he survives, even thrives and his life story takes the listener to interesting and exotic locales where he makes his way with music and/or gambling.

    Humphey Bower as always, did a magnificent job narrating the story. I simply would have liked to "care" a little more about the characters, including Jack.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mel Raleigh, NC, United States 10-05-14
    Mel Raleigh, NC, United States 10-05-14 Member Since 2011

    Baby Boomer in Raleigh NC. Faves include James Lee Burke, CJ Box, Baldacci, Flynn, Child, DeMille, Crais, Connolly, Thor, Coes, L'amour. Average two books/week.

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    "My First Courtenay"

    This was my first Bryce Courtenay, won't be my last. It's a long one - 26 hours so be prepared to make an investment of time. Great story that reminded me of some Sidney Sheldon epics from the 70-80s.

    Jack's youth and his Vegas experiences are detailed and comprise 85% of the book. His African experience is hurried and compacted. The reader learns in the epilogue why that had to be the case. Courtenay's health.

    Jack's Vegas days reminded me of the movie - Casino. Crazy Sammie was Joe Pesci's character in Casino.... quite insane and scary.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly 08-31-14
    Kelly 08-31-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Outstanding story and perforance"
    What did you like best about this story?

    What a well written story. It flowed very well. I am so happy to have discovered this author.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    I have never heard such an accomplished reader. How many accents can he do? Really entertaining!!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    areader 05-15-14
    areader 05-15-14

    Avid Audible Subscriber...

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    "Jack of Diamonds"

    Well played Bryce Courtenay and Humphrey Bower! I am sorry to hear of Bryce Courtenay's loss and will miss his writing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paddington Sydney, Australia 01-12-14
    Paddington Sydney, Australia 01-12-14 Listener Since 2010
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    "What a store teller ..... Bryce does it again!"

    As with all of his novels, I have been thoroughly entertained by Bryce Courtenay listening to Jack of Diamonds. I am sorry that have only a couple of his novels left to read/listen to. This novel was in a different setting mostly in Canada and Las Vegas, and a little towards the end in a mining setting in Africa. It was set among the jazz world, high roller gamblers and Mafia connections with an interesting thread about the culture and times of pre and post world war 2. I love Courtenay's novels .... he has been a wonderful story teller and will be greatly missed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    charmaine 01-06-14
    charmaine 01-06-14
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    "Jack of Diamonds"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A better story


    What was most disappointing about Bryce Courtenay’s story?

    Not as interesting as his other books which had more of a historical theme and truth to them.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Not at all


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl San Diego, CA, United States 09-11-13
    Cheryl San Diego, CA, United States 09-11-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic historical story!"

    I loved the Jack of Diamonds. There were so many interesting people. Learning about Canada and the music at the beginning of the story was all new for me and I really enjoyed it! This was one of the best audio books I've listened to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis 07-08-13
    Dennis 07-08-13 Member Since 2014

    Like action, adventures, war stories, militay happenings, historical readings-fiction, & mysteries. Unabridged only! Reader IMPORT!

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    "Great story!!"

    This was my first listening of a Bryce Courtenay book. It was hard for me to NOT listen to it even in to the late night. As the third volumn was drawning to a close --- I hoped for a sequel. However a person in their eighties (my age is79) learns that "gowing old is NOT for sissies!" And one runs into health problems that only supporting a team of doctors can help a person with...! Mr Bryce is in his 80's....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 06-18-13
    Prsilla 06-18-13 Member Since 2014

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

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    "MORE LOVABLE COURTENAY"

    I loved this book! It took me to times and places I could never go in my own life. For critics who think Courtenay was not at his best for this story, well, no, he wasn't! In fact I suspect we're (bloody) lucky to have this book. Actually we're getting the story for a second novel with a very happy ending. It looks to me like Bryce finished the book in June and died in November, so God bless him for this last great push!

    Yes, Humphrey Bower doesn't do q-u-i-t-e so well as a Canadian, but hang in there and you'll get to hear him do many more voices including a personable parrot. He had to narrate this book in order to do the parrot at the end, OK? I could put this another way: I like him better as an Australian; I think a lot of actors could have done the Canadian main character, but Bower had to do this book!

    The book is a love song for black people, for racial equality, and for fairness to women. Every time I felt bad about some fresh violence, I reminded myself that this is historical fiction. As a tiny child in the 1940's, I studied the sometimes gruesome pictures in Life magazine; I had some long thoughts about how it felt to die. The violence in the book is based on history and how things really are at many times and places. Anybody who bails before finishing is going to miss a lot of delicious fun and closing of circles. Yes, there's sex but it's sweet and the partners have been introduced. Indeed, some of the same scenes recur here from earlier books -- mining, poverty, prostitution, music, the cultivated older woman who helps the boy. The Las Vegas history seems to be new. I loved how Bryce used the names of his doctors for characters toward the end of the book. I wondered while listening if this story was based on any real people. Have not found out yet.

    Wonderful story! Thank you, Bryce!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Atlanta, GA, United States 01-14-13
    Jessica Atlanta, GA, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Courtenay not up to par on his latest novel."
    What was most disappointing about Bryce Courtenay’s story?

    It was slow and took a long time to really invest in the characters. He seemed to spend a lot of time on details that weren't significant to the overall plot.


    What three words best describe Humphrey Bower’s voice?

    Love him so much that I've found other audio books he's narrated, by other authors. He's a true master at narration, accents, characters (of both genders—without sounding condescending). But the story wasn't good so it was hard to get into his characters with this one. He seems to speak much slower when preforming with an American (or in this case Canadian) accent. It almost doesn't even sound like him.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoy Bryce Courtney's books—particularly Jessica, Power of One and Tandia. But it seems he's repeating/borrowing several concepts from his previous novels, i.e.
    card player—similar to Tomo in The Australian Trilogy
    copper miner/racial tensions—Peekay in Power of One

    Obviously authors write what they know, but with 20+ books, I think he needs to expand what he writes about a little more. I still have some other books of his to listen to, which I will, but this was not his best.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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