Arh the 1970's, so often in the shadow of the 60's, yet so much better. An Occupational Hazard is set in the London casino world of the 1970s and proports to mix fact and fiction. Its up to the reader to determine for themselves the likely factual elements but its not unreasonable to assume that most of it is fact.
The story centres on the Ventura Casino beginning in 1974. The name seems a bit odd but, that aside, its there to draw the reader knowlingly into a world that really existed but without giving the name of the casino, or casinos, on which this is based.
This is an intriguing story that hinges on the fate of staff at the Ventura Casino, the corruption and the wide spread avoidance of the law that existed in the casino business in the 1970s. The main character experiences the extremes that naivety leads her into trouble and the story is resolved in the present with more unwinding of the tale. It paints a sordid picture where lasciviousness and money meet institutional deviance. Oh what a lovely place the casino world used to be.
The defining essence of the piece is its straightforwardness in that you feel empathy with the main characters and dislike for the obvious villains.
This work is from a first time author and the prose reads easily and the story line is well constructed. Its a bit too long and James Wrethman has shyed away from comparison with the boring casinos we have today where few things of note happen. However, it is an enjoyable read and if you spend much time in casinos this will give you some indication of a different life in very recent history.
Editor of The Good Gambling Guide