Jim Swain has done it again! This latest novel will appeal to numerous audiences. First, to the hardcore Tony Valentine fans out there, this is another in the excellent series that Swain seems to be able to so easily churn out. Second, with the extreme popularity of televised poker (such as the World Series of Poker on ESPN, the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network, the National Heads-Up Championship on NBC and many others) this novel and the next one should appeal to those readers that have an interest in the game of poker, especially tournament poker. Numerous plots hit you from the opening chapters and they are expertly woven together as the latest Valentine saga takes you down the path of the crossroader. From the very likeable rogue Rufus (who seems to be based on the larger than life "Amarillo Slim" Preston) to Valentine's son Gerry and the up and down (and up again) relationship that they have, the characters once again leap off of the page and make the timely story come to life. I picked up my copy that morning as soon as the stores opened and had finished it by early that evening. A wonderful page turner that will keep you entranced and anxiously awaiting the release of the sister book to complete the story.
As a reviewer, I think it important to mention that not only have I had alot of pleasure from reading the Tony Valentine series, I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting Jim Swain in person. Through a mutual friend, I was able to sit down with Jim over dinner and have him entertain me with stories of the famous and infamous crossroaders and cheats that he has come into contact with. Additionally, I had him absolutely amaze me with his skill using a deck of cards. The casinos should be lucky that Mr. Swain has the morals not to go to their establishments and supplement his book writing income by utilizing the skills that he has with the pasteboards. Not only is Mr. Swain privy to the methods of the crossroader, he has the skill with a deck of cards to expertly show them to you. His moves are absolutely amazing. And in regards to this, it was very nice as a budding amateur magician with an interest in card cheating to see Mr. Swain pay homage to Steve Forte and Darwin Ortiz. For the magicians and crossroaders that read this series of books (and I know that both do!), it is nice to see and is something that will bring a smile of knowing to the lips of many.
If you are already a Tony Valentine fan, this book fails to disappoint and is another excellent read. If you are a fan of poker, then you are soon to be a new Tony Valentine fan. If you are a fan of a good story that is well written and told to you by an expert in the field, then do yourself a favor and get on the Tony Valentine bandwagon. Do so and you won't be looking back any time soon!
And for those that have not caught on or figured it out, this story is continued in Jim's next book "Deadman's Bluff" that is due out at the end of May.