From the author of Early to Rise and Bongo: a smoothly enjoyable novel in which richness of language is a principal, but not the only, virtue. A gambler named Goldberg--no given first name--begins a lucky streak in Las Vegas; overtaken by ""the feeling that started somewhere near his heart and blew down his arm like a trumpet call,"" he wins $147,000 at dice. Simultaneously, however, he meets an extraordinarily beautiful woman, who knows a man, who tries to kill Goldberg. The woman disappears, and Goldberg searches for her, partly because she's taken his winnings but more because he believes he loves her. As his search leads him to southern California, then to northern California, and finally to New Jersey, he continues to gamble and to win. But as he searches, he begins to suspect that both the woman and the man are involved in a counterfeiting plot and, having once been a Secret Service agent, he intensifies his investigation. As a result, people try to kill him and succeed in killing several of his sources. Meanwhile, Goldberg is plagued with unhappy memories: of his experiences in WW II, for instance, and of his son's death in Vietnam, for which he blames himself. Yet in the present he is flippant, even insoucient, and this seems natural; he is apparently so caught up in the past that he has no concern for the present. As the novel progresses, however, Goldberg displays intelligence and resourcefulness born of close observation as well as a sense of responsibility for what's going on around him, and it is to author Grisman's credit that this seems surprising, but not incongruous. With his language bright and cocky (""a short man who bounced as though he resented gravity,"" he writes, or, of an old woman, ""one look and you knew she baked from scratch"") and his main character pulled into trim form, Grisman gives us an alluring read.