Hormonal Harold, hale and hearty though dead since 1997, returns with his fourth-and-a-half postmortal novel. We number 2001’s Never Leave Me as a half, since it’s a reprint of Avon’s censored 1954 paperback, the lust and sex restored by Forge.
All right, Harold’s estate offers this Robbins idea—taken from “a rich heritage of novel ideas and works in progress”—now fleshed out from that big Sin City where, doubtless, Harold’s ghost instructs the Devil on joys of of the blowjob and how to run a string of call girls. Well, Harold is a winner here, because his ghost writes better than he did. Tight-packed plot and inside detail on gambling cheats in Las Vegas give off blue rocket-fire. Zack Riordan is the bastard child of Howard Hughes and Betty Riordan, at 22 a pretty, tip-hungry waitress whom the skeletal Hughes has up to his room for a twenty-minute servicing. When she returns to Vegas with three-month-old Howard Hughes Jr., as she wants to name him, Hughes’s bodyguards pay her off and run her out of town. So baby becomes Zack Riordan. As a kid he runs a rag trade, handing out posters for the lesser gambling joints. Then a heavy-hitter from Chicago kills Betty, and Zack leaves town. He returns much wiser, falls in with lowlife gambling wizards who know everything about cheating, and at 23 works his way up to being the youngest security manager in Vegas, being given Con Halliday’s casino to manage. When Con’s daughter Morgan fires him, he rapes her, joins a Chinese gangster in Macao, gets into global gambling, returns to Vegas with $5M, finds he’s father to Morgan’s child, and marries her. Then he builds the $100M Forbidden City, Sin City’s biggest trap.
Seminal Robbins. A killer. The pages go whoosh.