Tony Valentine made his living and his name as a cop in Atlantic City-and is now known worldwide for his ability to spot the kinds of scams, grifts, and rip-offs that cost casinos billions every year. A man with a biting wit who drives a '92 Honda, Tony is low-profile, old-school, and has seen it all-until he meets the luckiest man on earth.
Ricky Smith was once a small-town loser. Then he went to Las Vegas, jumped out the window of a burning hotel, lived to tell the tale, and tore up the Strip on an incredible winning streak. Ricky didn't just win at one slot machine or table game. He won at blackjack, roulette, and craps, and then beat the pants off the world's greatest poker player. Tony knows that goofy, loudmouthed Ricky Smith-or anyone else, for that matter-couldn't possibly be that fortunate. But when "Mr. Lucky" returns home to the little town of Slippery Rock, North Carolina, he keeps on winning everything from a horse race to a $50,000 lottery.
Hired by a desperate casino, Tony starts to pry into Ricky's past, his friends, and the strange little town that is benefiting from Ricky's fame and fortune. Unfortunately for Tony, his cover is blown when he is forced to reveal a trick he has up his own sleeve: a pocket Glock he can shoot with laser-like precision. Suddenly, two men are dead, the cops are on Tony's tail, and the investigation explodes in violence-putting the lives of Tony's son and his young family in danger.
For years, Tony's son Gerry has dueled with his own criminal impulses. Now, the Ricky Smith case has lured Gerry through the gates of temptation and into a murderous confrontation with the Dixie Mafia. With Tony stuck on the slippery slope of Slippery Rock and Gerry fighting for his life, the Valentines are finding out just how bad good luck can get.
Against a neon-tinted backdrop of adrenaline rushes, hard crashes, big money, and high-wire tension, the inimitable James Swain has set his best Tony Valentine novel yet: a funny, furious ride with an astounding array of crooks, marks, and one killer scam.
From the Hardcover edition.
In the stunning opener, gambler Ricky Smith takes a swan dive from a burning balcony into a pool as the Riverboat Casino in Vegas goes up in flames. Smith gets up, walks across the street to the Mint and proceeds to win a cool million, never losing a hand. The odds say no one's that lucky. Tony Valentine, head of Grift Sense, a gambling consulting company, gets called in to find out exactly how Ricky cheated, so the casino doesn't have to pay. For his fifth outing (Sucker Bet, etc.), Swain presents his 63-year-old retired cop with his most involved mystery yet. Readers gain expected info on chip scams, while the plot goes delightfully over the top like Agatha Christie at her wildest, with gypsies, drug cartels and one piece of misdirection after another (not least that dive from the balcony). Occasional preachiness interrupts the action, as Tony explains how awful killing bad guys makes you feel--but he still keeps shooting them in the head. The narrative nails gambling cold, noting that televised poker has convinced millions they know how to play: "Professionals had a name for these new players. They called them suckers."
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 28, 2007
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