The Poor Boy's Game


When US Marshal Frannie Mullen gets one of her best friends shot during a routine apprehension, her career is over. Still reeling from the loss, Frannie is trying to sort out her feelings for Wyatt, the reformed outlaw who loves her, and to support her newly-sober sister, Mae, as she struggles with the fallout of their unstable, violent childhood.

Their father Patrick Mullen is a thug, a vicious enforcer for a corrupt Philadelphia union, and when he escapes from prison, bodies of ex-rivals and witnesses begin piling up. Now Frannie is suspected as an accomplice in his escape and targeted by shadowy killers from the Philadelphia underworld. Unsure who to trust, drawing on the skills she's learned as a Marshal and her training as a boxer, Frannie is forced to fight to protect her shattered sister and Patrick’s pregnant girlfriend from the most dangerous criminal she’s ever faced—her own father.





Photograph by Steve Weinik. All Rights Reserved by the photographer.

Dennis Tafoya writes:


"The Poor Boy's Game is a story I've been thinking about for a while. I love writing about family; sometimes I think it's my only real subject. I'm fascinated by family connections and obligations, and don't we all wonder how much we're innately ourselves and how much we're formed by (and in opposition to) the people who raised us?


I also love writing about Philadelphia. Working on Poor Boy's Game I got to spend time with a little bit of Philly's criminal history - the Roofers Union scandals - as well as some of the best and most interesting expressions of our culture, like the photography of Zoe Strauss and the mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, which curious readers can see beautifully documented in the photographs of Steve Wienik and more fully explored in the absorbing documentary "Resurrect Dead," from filmmaker John Foy.


I hope fans of Dope Thief and Wolves of Fairmount Park will enjoy The Poor Boy's Game, and I hope you'll come out to meet me during the book's launch in May and June."





All Rights for the images reserved to Dennis Tafoya, except where noted.

"Tafoya delivers a gut-wrenching crime thriller as gritty and harsh as a Philadelphia winter." - Starred  Review, Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Poor Boy's Game


"At the center of Dennis Tafoya’s powerful and poignant novel beats the mighty heart of his richly etched heroine, U.S. Marshal Frannie Mullen. With The Poor Boy’s Game, Tafoya shows us he ranks with George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane, illuminating the grimmest corners of his city, and telling tales filled with both darkness and immense beauty." - Megan Abbott, Edgar Winning Author of Dare Me


"The Poor Boy’s Game is a beautifully rendered, gut-wrenching portrait of lives wrecked by crime and circumstance. Tafoya’s prose is so close to the street that it seems to be written not from the outside looking in, but from within the wounds and fractures themselves." - Reed Farrel Coleman, Edgar Award-nominated Author of The Hollow Girl


"A bruising heartbreaker of a novel, with a heroine you won't soon forget. Tafoya knows his territory and, more importantly, he knows his people. The Poor Boy’s Game is a knockout." - Wallace Stroby, Author of Shoot the Woman First


"The Poor Boy's Game is at turns involving, terrifying and deeply moving. Dennis Tafoya is a remarkable writer whose characters jump off the page. Brave, sharp, damaged and touchingly real, Frannie Mullen is a heroine I would follow anywhere. I really, really loved this book." - USA Today Bestselling Author Alison Gaylin


"Dennis Tafoya pulls no punches. His characters carry fractured hearts and wounds that won’t heal—none more so than U.S. Marshal Frannie Mullen—but even their darkest hours are rendered with a grace that makes them all the more hauntingly human.  THE POOR BOY’S GAME is a triumph." - Hilary Davidson, Anthony Award-Winning Author of Blood Always Tells




"Tafoya delivers a gut-wrenching crime thriller as gritty and harsh as a Philadelphia winter...Tafoya does a superb job keeping the reader guessing to the surprise end." - Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly


"Tafoya continues to explore the fine line between good and evil. This brutal installment features complex characters and a truly shocking ending." - Kirkus Reviews


"Exquisite language…Tafoya writes a flowing, rhythmic prose that contains lovely images…and rises to stunning set pieces." - Booklist