THE GAMBLERS - the new thriller by Christoph Fischer
(The Book is available now)
THE GAMBLERS is the story of Ben Andrews a shy accountant who becomes obsessed with numbers and luck.
When he wins the Lottery and becomes rich overnight his life changes, but not necessarily in the ways he had thought.
Who can he trust, now that he's rich? How should Ben build his new life? Still frugal and determined not to waste his money unnecessarily he unexpectedly falls under the spell of a charismatic and seductive Russian poker player, named Mirco. They share a passion for gambling but this fascination remains ambiguous for Ben.
What follows for Ben becomes a gamble with trust, corruption and 'betting on the right horse'.
He stopped at a very modern warehouse conversion in the meat-packing district and parked on the road. Finding a spot so easily was yet another token of luck, Ben thought. Mirco rang an unmarked doorbell and got buzzed into the building straight away. He walked with familiarity through a set of doors and around the corner towards a lift. The thing was made of bleak metal and didn’t signal anything like ‘way to a reputable designer or stylist’. Ben started to have doubts about this adventure until the elevator opened directly into a penthouse with massive windows and a French door out to a roof. He walked to the window to admire the stunning view over the river. The air was crisp, the sky clear; one could see for miles. There was something incredibly beautiful about this and empowering.
“You like?” Mirco said, amused, and laughed at his friend for being so easily impressed. “I keep forgetting you’re a tourist here.”
Ben almost didn’t notice, he was so taken in by the view.
“Bella,” Mirco called out loudly and clicked his fingers. “Your clients are here. Let’s have some champagne, shall we, and an espresso for me, too.”
Ben turned around to have a look at the inside. Standing with his back to the window he saw the elevator and a reception desk beside it. All of the space this side of the elevator was a large walkway with a few seats and a sofa.
Behind the reception desk and along the wall were several closed doors.
A stunning, dark-haired woman in a tight black leather dress and high heels came from behind the desk with a tray of filled champagne flutes, obviously prepared for this request.
“Oliver will be out in a second,” she said as she handed Ben and Mirco each a glass. She kissed the Russian on the cheek. “Good to see you. It’s been a while.”
She looked dismissively at Mirco’s suit. It was bland in comparison to what the Russian had worn a day before but it surely didn’t call for such contempt. Ben could tell that it wasn’t cheap.
“You’ve been cheating on us and been going to the shops,” she said and looked at him with assumed disgust. “Shame on you! Wait what happens when Oliver sees it.”
Mirco pulled a scared face and winked at her.
Seconds later a tall but plump man of about fifty entered the room. He wore heavy-rimmed glasses on a string around his neck, a green plaid jacket and yellow trousers in a similar check design. Balding and wearing a scarf, he looked incredibly camp, but when he spoke he sounded rather butch and serious.
“Is this the guy?” he asked, pointing at Ben.
“Yes, Oliver” Mirco replied. “We need a full new wardrobe and to refine his look.”
“Oh yes,” Oliver said to Mirco as if Ben wasn’t even there. With no introduction or formality Oliver ruffled through Ben’s hair and shook his head. “First, we need to get his hair sorted. Bella, ring Jean and tell her it’s a Mirco-emergency. Tell her to bring her entire team. We’re going the full shebang.”
Then he took out a tape measure. “Eve, bring your notebook,” he ordered and an equally stunning blonde girl in a short leather skirt and a silk blouse came running, ready to take notes.
Oliver took measurements of Ben’s body. Fast, rough and focused on the task, he shouted out numbers to Eve.
“I’ll be one sec,” he said and disappeared into the rooms behind the elevator. When he came back he brought a couple of clothes stands with suits, shirts and coats.
Ben stood there like a lemon, puzzled and uncomfortable.
“Get him a refill,” Mirco said to Bella. “The accountant is starting to feel nervous at the sight of your glamour,” and laughed heartily. He turned to Ben. “Don’t worry, it’s my treat. I want to show you what the good life is like. I know you’re happy with your own boring style, but get a taste of mine and see how much fun it is. You’ll never go back, trust me.”
Ben shook his head but didn’t argue. The pretty girls made the ordeal of modelling rather bearable. As he looked at himself in the mirror from time to time he did like the improvements. It was rather skilled what the team did to him, he had to admit it; money well spent, he reckoned.
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“Don’t waste any time,” Ben said. “The sooner you pull, the sooner I get to go home,” he stated loudly, although he wasn’t so keen on going home any more.
Mirco looked at him with disappointment. “You have a lot to learn, my friend. This can be a game, too, and a very enjoyable one at that. You mustn’t pick the first girl and be done with it. What would be the fun in that? It’s like Poker, where you don’t know who holds the better cards. Get her to want to win you, see her raising the stakes, and then see who won whom over or who pulls out at the last minute. Like I said, I could have a girl sent to my room any day. This is much more exciting.”
He took Ben by the arm and pulled him into a large drawing room where the beautiful Indian girl had gone. Mirco looked around the room.
Ben shook his head in disapproval. Part of him was intrigued, though. It would be interesting to see how Mirco would be ‘playing’ this. He scanned the room. Could Wendy be in a place like this? Could she be here?
The two men walked from room to room, the kitchen, a music room and finally they went down into the basement, which was dimly lit with neon lights and minimal furnishings, like a Nineties’ dance club. Jazzy lounge music had some people moving to the rhythm. The Indian girl was amongst them, dancing with her eyes closed half of the time.
Mirco got drinks from the bar and spoke at length with the pretty black bar girl. Ben saw from his seat how the Indian girl had briefly noticed the flirtation at the bar, yet, maintained her uncommitted air and kept dancing.
Mirco brought the drinks over to where Ben had been waiting and then led him back upstairs into a sitting room where two men played chess with a set of artfully carved pieces on a polished ivory board.
“Now there is a game of skill,” he said and nudged Ben. Mirco studied the two players without looking at the board itself, whereas Ben did the opposite. To him, it was clear who would win.
“I bet you my winnings from the casino that the guy on the right will win this,” Mirco whispered in Ben’s ear. “I can sense it.”
“I’d take that bet,” Ben said. The man on the left was maybe four moves away from checkmate, as far as Ben could tell. Everything about that player oozed calm and an analytical mind. “What do you want from me if I lose?” he asked.
“If I win this bet you need to pick a girl here and bring her back to your room,” Mirco said and laughed.
“I’m not doing that,” Ben said indignant. “That’s in infantile dare!”
“What’s infantile is to wait for that stewardess,” Mirco said and nudged him again. “You’re not married to her yet, so don’t be such a boring goody two shoes. I promise, if you ever date her I will never tell what you’ve been up to tonight,” he added in a half-hearted whisper behind the back of his hand.
“I’m not like that,” Ben said, annoyed.
“Well, I thought you were so sure of the bet?” Mirco said with a smirk. “You’ve got nothing to lose, then. Try to be more confident, that’s what gambling is all about.”
Ben pondered for a while. It was true. He only hesitated because Mirco was willing to bet against him. That was undermining his confidence. There really was no way the game could take a turn now.
“I’ve never been good at ‘pulling’ girls,” Ben said. “It wouldn’t be any different here. I doubt that if I lost the bet I could keep my end of the bargain.”
“Fine,” Mirco said. “As long as you give me your word of honour that you’ll really try, that should do.”
“That I can promise,” Ben said, getting into the playfulness of his friend’s mood at last. “It’d be a miracle if this game turned around, though.”
The book is available for pre-sale and will be released Monday June 1st
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Praise for Fischer's thriller "THE HEALER" on Amazon:
"Very Unforgettable Read" - "One of the best-in-class books I’ve ever read in this sub-genre"
- "Touching thriller that raises many profound questions."
- "Multi-layered, multifaceted, expertly credible psychological thriller"
Praise for "IN SEARCH OF A REVOLUTION" on Amazon:
"Excellent read. Cracking pace." - "Christoph Fischer is a skilled and accomplished story teller"
"Fischer does an excellent job in distilling the macro into the micro. This talent could be compared to Kazuo Ishiguro's gift of 'writing in the miniature' "
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. "Time To Let Go" , his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions” in October 2014. His medical thriller "The Healer" was released in January 2015 and his latest historical novel “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015.
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.