In a jam and on the lamSuppose you had been making regular (and illicit) payments to an unsavory underworld character for, say, the past 20 years. Then suppose you found out that you had only six weeks to live. When the bagman came around to pick up the weekly payoff, you might just tell him to get stuffed, right? I mean, what would you have to lose? Then suppose your doctor told you that he had made a mistake, and that your "terminal" disease was nothing more than an acute case of indigestion. It's time to take it on the lam, somewhere out of reach of the long arm of the lawless; at minimum, it's time to hire some muscle. Enter Cole Springer: affable nightclub owner, sensitive classical pianist and thug-thumpin' hard guy. It's Springer's job to act as protector, or in worst case, avenger. In Springer's Gambit W. L. Ripley has crafted a clever plot, created a thoroughly credible lead character and populated the supporting roles with as motley a crew of strutting sociopaths as has ever graced a seamy underbelly. We will keep our fingers crossed that this is only the beginning of a great new series.