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LOADED DICE by James Swain Kirkus Star



Pub Date: June 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-345-46326-0
Publisher: Ballantine

A dead stripper and a novice gambler whose $25,000 winnings have been stolen turn Tony Valentine’s head in the casino consultant’s latest trip to Las Vegas.

If Lucy Price knew so little about blackjack that she consulted a Basic Strategy card after the turn of every card, Nick Nicocropolis wants to know how she still won virtually every $500 bet she put down at the Acropolis, and Lucy wants to know who took the money from the safe in her room. When Tony, in town to demonstrate the latest electronic cheating device, catches Lucy as she’s about to jump off the balcony of her room, it’s mutual wariness at first sight. Getting mixed up with Lucy spells trouble. But not as much trouble as getting mixed up with Kris Blake, the late strip-club artiste whose cop boyfriend, finding Tony’s traveling bag in her hotel room, has vowed revenge. And not nearly as much trouble as getting mixed up with Amin and Pash, the new friends Tony’s impecunious son Gerry has made in the card-counting school he’s attending. Starting with a little pile of felonies, Swain builds tension through a series of beautifully calibrated lessons in fleecing casinos and hints of something bigger.

The fastest of Tony’s found adventures to date is as clever as any of the first three (Sucker Bet, 2003, etc.). This smooth, funny series has got to be one of the finds of the decade.