Swanagon’s (The Adventures of Zach Vallor, 2011) novel considers the seedy side of Las Vegas dealmaking.
Danillo Bacci is a CPA and former Marine with a brother in prison, extensive knowledge of firearms, and a tough-as-nails demeanor. Though his brother, Adrian, is serving time for a crime actually committed by Danillo, the bond between them is strong. When Adrian’s safety behind bars is compromised, Danillo has no other choice but to work as the close confidant of businessman Paul Goldstein, CEO of the Purple Mantis Casino and Resort. Goldstein has his eye on creating a new development in Las Vegas: 3,000 rooms, 15 high-end suites, an Asian-themed nightclub, 14 signature restaurants, a speak-easy, two pool decks, 30 meeting rooms, a nudist day club, and an outdoor concert hall. Deep in the casino business—a “full contact sport” lined with political hurdles—Danillo finds himself diving into a sea of moral dilemmas. Will he be able to aid his brother without losing the ethics his only sibling once instilled in him? While the story is certainly full-contact at times, it also devotes pages to business discussions and presentations. One of Danillo’s first tasks is to analyze a budget, which, even when conducted by a man who has killed 15 people in war, proves to be less than enthralling: during his presentation, “he stipulated that the executive team would pursue five narrowly tailored strategies during the next twelve months.” Gaining momentum in later pages, the story involves plenty of snobs, hoodwinkers, loose women, and dangerous men, some who find their souls “too attached to the strip.” Swanagon sees Las Vegas as a dynamic city with more than its share of pitfalls as well as a few jackpots. Some characters are painted with broad strokes, but the bigger picture is an urban jungle likely to hook readers eager to see a man like Danillo navigate it all.
Despite a bit too much time discussing business details, a wild tale with an intriguing protagonist who just might crack.