Ace in the Hole completes the second internal trilogy of the Wild Cards, finishing up many of the plotlines of Aces Abroad and Down and Dirty and bringing the Puppetman plotline to the end. The main plot centers around a presidential convention, which is already a bizarre enough system on its own. Bring super powers and assassins–and super powered assassins into the mix–and things go very very sideways.
This book really does show what makes the Wild Cards books shine, with just enough real world (and real world characters) to make it feel like a solid ‘what if’ while at the same time, bringing in the Wild Card and how it changed the world at every level. It’s good to meet a wide variety of previous characters on both sides and, as the stories go on, to see some of those same characters fall.
The fall of Puppetman–while it was almost guaranteed to happen after the events of the last two books; it had to happen if there were any justice in this fictional world–was… intense. Getting final confirmation that Puppetman was a fragment of Hartman's personality and not a seperate entity all along was quite a thing.
Unfortunately, so far as I can tell, only Dead Man's Hand seems to be released on audiobook. If I continue the series, I’ll probably switch to text versions from here. Although who knows how long that will take…
Edit: Dead Man’s Hand seems to be a continuation of the stories in Ace in the Hole, so I’ll listen to that one before changing instead.