An office drone gets a shot at his dream job–managing a mobbed-up casino–in this fizzy thriller.
Sarasota insurance salesman Cliff Zavitch has a severe case of burnout. He’s tired of trying to sell widows unnecessary policies, and his supervisors are threatening to frame him if he exposes their shady practices. Then Phil Irish, his old boss and mentor at Las Vegas’s Midway Casino, makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Phil has been skimming for himself a slice of the proceeds due his Mafia partners and has turned state’s evidence as the FBI and the Nevada Gaming Control Board prepare to seize his casino. He wants straight-arrow Cliff to run the Midway in his stead, under a government-appointed general manager, and see that Phil’s financial interests are protected. The upside for Cliff includes a huge salary, luxurious digs, a snazzy wardrobe, perks galore and all the clout that accrues to a casino honcho on the Strip. The downside is even bigger: The mob is now gunning for him, in the form of Silas, a nondescript but consummately professional hit man whose cool improvisations are one of the story’s chief pleasures. The deals and plots Cliff becomes enmeshed in are a bit far-fetched and not always comprehensible even after they’ve been explained at some length. But Kazor delivers punchy prose and colorful characters, as well as an engrossing portrait of the workings of a high-end gambling joint. The author, a casino veteran, knows this terrain like the back of his hand, and his affection for it is contagious. As Cliff takes over–mastering elaborate security protocols, sussing out cheaters and their endlessly inventive ruses, massaging high rollers and, more importantly, their mistresses–we share his sense of fascination with this exhilarating world.
An atmospheric page-turner that shows why running a casino is more fun than gambling in one.