An undistinguished collection of 22 new stories by members of the International Association of Crime Writers.
Editor Connelly could have improved the volume by including a tale of his own to supplement his two-page introduction, but he may have been at a loss for words. As matters stand, James Swain’s wry “The Sunshine Tax,” S.J. Rozan’s dour “Passline” and Wendy Hornsby’s ironic “Dust Up,” the three leadoff batters, are the best of the bunch. Matters go steadily downhill thereafter. Every Vegas cliché is covered, from the gaudy showgirl (T.P. Keating) to the Elvis impersonator (Linda Kerslake) to a pair of Siberian tigers (Gay Toltl Kinman). Obligatory figures include a drug courier (Jeremiah Healy), an Indian casino accountant (Lise McClendon), a tour guide (John Wessel), an actor (Micki Marz), a magician (A.B. Robbins), an obsessed fan (Sue Pike), a stripper (K.j.a. Wishnia) and two assassins (Tom Savage). There’s an armored car heist (Rick Mofina), a kidnapped kid (Ronnie Klaskin), a missing Asian (Michael Collins), buried drugs (Libby Fischer Hellmann), a gambling junket (Joan Richie), a little S&M (J. Madison Davis), a trip to a nearby ghost town (Edward Weller) and a stroll down memory lane with the K.K.K. (Ruth Cavin). The most recycled motifs include the Bellagio and the Mirage, slots and craps, and dreams gone bust. And Red Rock Canyon becomes a repository for far too many corpses and plot twists.
Anyone for Atlantic City?