It is 1988, at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Gregg Hartmann (Puppetman) is poised to take the presidential candidacy, if only he can defeat his main contender, the charismatic faith-healer Leo Barnett. Tachyon, Jack Braun (Goldenboy), Spector (Demise), Mackie Messer, and Sara Morgenstern all attempt to help or hinder his chances. Hartmann campaigns on a jokers’ civil rights platform, whereas Barnett aims to place wild carders into sanatoriums while medical science finds a cure for the virus.
Ace in the Hole was written in 1989. The third book in the second trilogy, it completes the arc begun with Aces Abroad and Down and Dirty. As usual in the Wild Cards world, the third book in each trilogy is the true mosaic novel; rather than chapters written by individual authors, the stories are woven together into one. Whereas the earlier mosaic novel (Jokers Wild) took place over a single day, with the hours of the day counted off, Ace in the Hole takes place over seven days. Each chapter is a single day, with the hourly time stamp provided.