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The innocuous game of bridge turned deadly in Kansas City, Mo., in 1929 when Myrtle Bennett apparently shot her husband dead in a dispute over a game. In recounting this tale, Pomerantz introduces an ensemble of 1920s characters ranging from Ely Culbertson, who helped fuel the new bridge craze, to Fightin' Jim Reed, the U.S. senator from Kansas City who successfully defended the gorgeous Myrtle Bennett at trial. As promoted by Culbertson, bridge was a zone of equality between men and women-and the stage on which marital spats could escalate; it was, said Culbertson, "a way to defuse the petty inhibitions and tensions of daily married life." Pomerantz (Wilt, 1962) offers a thoroughly researched historical tapestry with a mass of amusing anecdotes. But toward the book's end, he swerves into his own fascination with Myrtle Bennett as leading to his historical inquiry into these events. The most eloquent explanation of the similarities between a bridge partnership and marriage comes not from Pomerantz but from family therapist/bridge addict Frank Bessing, quoted in the book: "the main conflict is often, 'Who is in charge?' " (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.