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At twenty-seven, magician Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she started touring at seventeen, took first place at the World of Magic competition at eighteen, and never reached such heights again. Shunned by the magic world after a disastrous liaison with an older magician, she now lives alone in her New Jersey apartment with her pigeons and a pile of overdue bills. In a desperate ploy to make extra cash, she follows up on an old offer to write a fea-ture magazine article—on the art of cheating at cards.  

But when she meets the perfect subject for her article, what begins as a jour-nalistic gamble brings into question everything Natalie thinks she knows about her talent, and herself. Natalie is dazzled by the poker cheat’s sleight of hand and soon finds herself facing a proposition that could radically alter her fortune—to help pull off a $1.5 million magic trick that, if done successfully, no one will ever even suspect happened. With Kardos raising the stakes chapter after chapter, Bluff is a breathtaking work of suspense from a writer at the top of his game. 


“As lithe and cunning as its characters, Michael Kardos’s Bluff is a masterly exercise in narrative sleight of hand. This is suspense in its purest form—character-driven, immersive and hopelessly addictive. Prepare to be taken.”
     —Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me

“Michael Kardos is a master at ratcheting up the suspense, and Bluff combines poker, a brilliant con game, and two terrific women who run the show. If you haven’t read Kardos yet, Bluff is the perfect place to start!”

   ―Lisa Scottoline, bestselling author of Exposed

Before He Finds Her


Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.

But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Her is a stunning novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.

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“A compelling story about sad truths, loss, and resilience . . . should make fantastic fodder for book-group discussions.”

“Kardos delivers another outstanding crime thriller with this complex and moving account of a young woman trying to make sense of her past and craft a viable future . . . Sophisticated characterizations enhance the intricately constructed story line.”
     —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) 

Before He Finds Her is a master class in pacing and balancing multiple viewpoints, and it’s full of raw tension. Even when the story is simmering, it feels like it’s buzzing at a full-on boil . . . It’s a book that pulses with energy and truth.”
     —The Clarion Ledger

“Utterly compelling, innovative and packed with beautifully drawn characters, Michael Kardos’ second thriller propels him into the front rank of contemporary American thriller writers.”
     —The Irish Independent

The Three-Day Affair

Will, Jeffrey, and Nolan are lifelong friends, now nine years post-college and forging their own careers. They have no reason to believe anything extraordinary will befall them—until one night when Jeffrey attempts to rob a convenience store, drags a young woman into Will’s car, and shouts a single word: “Drive!” Shaken and confused, Will obeys.

Suddenly, three ordinary men find themselves completely out of their element. They are already guilty of kidnapping and robbery; it is only a matter of time before they find out just what else they’re capable of. For these four people, three days will decide their fate—between freedom and prison, innocence and guilt . . . and life and death.

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The Three-Day Affair never stops roaring, the pages blurring by, dangerously accelerating.”
  —Esquire (A Best Book of 2012) 

“A momentary lapse of judgment leads to dire consequences in Kardos’s excellent first novel, a crime thriller sure to please fans of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan . . . Kardos makes the most of his intriguing setup, populated with plausible characters and enhanced by a vicious closing sting.”

   —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) 

“It is an impressive debut. But what’s more important is that this is simply a great novel. It does what great books should–makes you resent time spent away from it.”
  —The Star Ledger 

One Last Good Time 
*Winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction*


Bounding between the comic, the sad, and the super-strange, the ten interlinked stories in One Last Good Time breathlessly illuminate not just life at the Jersey Shore, but life anywhere it exists on the edge: between the solid and the fluid, where one runs out of land and crashes into the waves of the strange and unknown.


“An impressive debut collection…Kardos is such an original, offbeat, revealing talent.”
    —Kirkus Reviews

“Michael Kardos’s soulful stories take place in that hard-luck corner of New Jersey where rock and roll dreams crash into blue-collar reality. One Last Good Time is a remarkable debut collection, full of stories that are funny and melancholy at the same time.”
    –Tom Perrotta, best-selling author of The Abstinence Teacher and The Leftovers


“In One Last Good Time, Michael Kardos, a writer of exceptionally rare gifts, gives us a Jersey Shore home not only to vengeful ghosts and talking ashes and kidnappers and arm-breaking mobsters, but also—always—to ordinary human beings trying desperately, wryly, to do the best they can. The result is a book that, in story after story, is not only funny, but laugh-out-loud funny; not only poignant, but heart-wrenching. I’ve never read anything quite like it—and I will read it again and again and again.”
    –Christopher Coake, PEN Award-winning author of We’re in Trouble and You Came Back

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The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Writer's Guide 


Brief, practical, and wonderfully readable, The Art and Craft of Fiction gives aspiring writers all they need. Michael Kardos focuses on technique and presents fiction writing as a teachable (and learnable) art. With an organization built on methods and process rather than traditional literary elements, Kardos helps students begin their stories, write strong scenes, use images and detail, revise for aesthetics and mechanics, and finish and polish their own stories. He delivers clear instruction, effective examples, and assignments that build toward finished work in a tone reviewers praise as "pitch perfect." A brief fiction anthology at the back of the book — of 15 works that Kardos draws on in his instruction — provides stories that students will love to be inspired by.


“I’ve been looking for a book like this for years. It’s refreshingly different in organization, with an emphasis on not just the elements of fiction, but on mechanics, openings and endings, and structure. The brevity and price are also strengths. I absolutely would adopt this book.
    —Liza Wieland, East Carolina University

“What I like best, and what is too often missing in other writing texts, is the practicality of instruction. Kardos wisely focuses on the nuts & bolts that can be taught and demonstrated.”
    —Randall Silvis, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

“This is the perfect text on narrative technique and story writing for college fiction writers.”
    —Steve Watkins, University of Mary Washington

“Even advanced writers will find new insights and new angles on old challenges.”
    —Laura Valeri, Georgia Southern University

“I wish I’d had something like this book as a beginning writer.”
    —Stephanie Vanderslice, University of Central Arkansas

“I love this book!”
    —Patrick Bizzaro, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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