Monday, November 9, 2015

Tony Valentine Is Up to His Neck in Trouble Once Again

Tony Valentine is a former cop who now chases after people who cheat casinos. When a player wins eighty-four hands in a row at a blackjack table in a casino on Florida’s Micanopy Indian Reservation, it seems clear that something is badly out of whack and Tony is called in to consult.

It’s obvious to Valentine that no one could possibly win that many hands in a row without the connivance of a crooked dealer, but initially Tony can’t figure out how the scam was worked. Naturally, the people working the scam would prefer that Tony not figure out the scheme and track them down, and they initially attempt to diminish his enthusiasm for the job by planting a particularly nasty and hungry alligator in Tony’s Honda.

Meanwhile, a hustler named Rico Blanco, who has ties to the former mob boss John Gotti, is running a scheme of his own that involves the Micanopy casino. Tony and Blanco have crossed paths earlier, when Blanco cheated Tony’s errant son, Gerry, out of a bar that Tony had purchased for his son in an ill-fated effort to put the kid on the straight and narrow. Blanco’s current hustle involves an aging drummer for a once-famous rock band and a hooker with the improbable name of Candy Hart, and Tony soon finds himself entangled in this mess as well.

James Swain mixes all these characters into a very entertaining tale that is something of a mash-up of a story that might have been written by the team of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. The characters are all a bit off-norm; the story moves along at a quick pace, and the payoff is a lot of fun. As was the case in the first two entries in the Tony Valentine series, a good portion of the entertainment value lies in Tony’s explanations of the numerous schemes that hustlers use to cheat casinos. It’s all very enlightening and a very good read.

No comments:

Post a Comment