LAST CALL by Tim Powers

LAST CALL

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Rich, top-flight mythic fantasy based on Jungian archetypes, Tarot symbolism, T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and the Parsifal legend; by the smartly acclaimed author of On Stranger Tides, 1987, etc. Luck could not flow with more Jungian synchronicity for Powers than his having cast Bugsy Siegel as The Fisher King in this long novel just as Warren Beatty's Bugsy has fixed the nation's eye on the Oscar race, along with Robin Williams's turn as The Fisher King. The scene is Las Vegas, the subject supernatural poker using Tarot cards. Bugsy Siegel is the reigning Fisher King whose new Flamingo Hotel gambling casino is modeled on the Tarot's tower card, with the Flamingo as an inverted tower. Overthrowing Bugsy is Georges Leon, who assassinates Bugsy in his mistress's home in L.A. and prepares to become Fisher King. Leon has two sons, Robert and Scott. He has already spiritually gutted Robert and now can see through Robert's eyes, and is setting up five-year-old Scott for the same treatment while inducting him into playing-card magic. But Leon's wife shoots him in the groin, giving Leon the Fisher King's unhealing wound, and throws Scott onto a yacht that's passing by on a trailer. Scott, who has been blinded in one eye by Leon and become a one-eyed jack, is adopted and raised by the yacht's wizardly owner, Ozzie (who is much smarter than the Wizard of Oz). Scott faces his father in a weird poker game called Assumption, which uses Tarot cards and allows Leon to assume the bodies of losers for his future use, thus assuring him of immortality as long as he has a stable of bodies. When Scott loses to Leon, his objective becomes someday to beat Leon at Assumption and save his own soul by depriving his beastly father of bodies. Scott is aided by the ghost of Bugsy Siegel, which he meets at the bottom of Lake Mead. Knockout poker sequences give the symbolism real sizzle, while the genre is enlivened throughout with great lines from Eliot.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-10732-X
Page count: 420pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1992




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