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Sucker Bet

Sucker Bet [Kindle Edition]

James Swain
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

A hardened ex-cop with great instincts, a sharp eye, and a short fuse, Tony Valentine still catches crooks, but a very special breed of them. He nabs hustlers who rob casinos, and finds the fatal flaw that allowed the place to get ripped off in the first place. Sometimes that means biting the hand that feeds him, but Valentine isn’t paid to sugarcoat the cold, hard truth. Along flashy strips and in seedy dives, if there’s a game to be fixed, Valentine knows how to spot the tricks, the scams, the sleight of hand. And with his new case, there’s definitely more on the table than meets the eye.

Harry Smooth Stone, head of security at the Micanopy Indian Reservation Casino in South Florida, desperately needs Valentine’s expertise. A blackjack dealer has rigged a game, dealt a player eighty-four winning hands in a row, and disappeared. Valentine’s gut tells him a different story: that the runaway dealer is alligator food and his employers are keeping secrets.

But the missing dealer is part of an even bigger, far deadlier scheme. Valentine’s trail leads him to Rico Blanco, a ruthless gangster who once worked for John Gotti, his shady, elusive partner-in-crime, Victor Marks, and a bombshell named Candy Hart, a hooker with dreams of love, a combination tailored made to double-cross. It appears they have a con going down involving a cocky, filthy rich Brit and his millions of dollars. Valentine’s challenge: to figure out how all the pieces of the seamy puzzle fit together . . . before his luck runs out and his life goes bust.

In prose that sizzles with style and a wicked sense of humor, with plot twists that could cause whiplash, James Swain takes readers behind the neon-lit scenes of casinos and the gambling trade—and reveals a colorful cast of hustlers and con men, bookies and grifters. Make no mistake about it: on the crowded shelves of fiction, Sucker Bet is a sure thing.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 305 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345463234
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (1 April 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #660,163 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun light reading 8 Aug 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
This is fun light reading - fast paced, well plotted and nicely written with good light characterisation (except for the minor character "Mr Beauregard!). It offers no great depth or insight but is rather an enjoyable way of passing time while traveling or on holiday.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Third Tony Valentine Novel Continues a Great Series 4 April 2003
By JC - Published on
James Swain writes fun books. I can't imagine anyone who would not enjoy his latest. It's the third novel featuring Tony Valentine, a retired former cop who now works as a casino consultant catching cheaters. He's a little older than your usual protagonist, but that only makes him more endearing. He's a pretty well developed character as well. His difficulty interacting with his son and his neglect of his caring neighbor show the reader that he is far from perfect. However, what he does is catch cheats, or crossroaders as Swain calls them, and at that, he is very good indeed.
Swain's books are worth reading if only for the insight into the world of scams, cheats, and hustlers that he gives us. Each of his three books revolves around Valentine's investigation of a major scam. In Sucker Bet, it begins with a blackjack hustle but moves quickly into a major college sports scandal. While he is investigating, Tony frequently gets calls from worried customers asking him to look at security video or inventory lists and determine how their casino is getting scammed. These little episodes, while not really part of the plot, are some of the best parts of the book.
Aside from the scams and grifts, hidden in each of his books is a pretty good mystery too. People end up dead and Tony in drawn in through his inevestigation. As with most novels of this type, Valentine's life and the lives of those he cares about are endangered. While there are better mytery novels out there, few can match the originality of James Swain.
Sucker Bet also includes perhaps one of the best characters I've ever read about. He is a chimpanzee named Mr. Beauregard, and he is amazing. I won't give too much away, but if you can keep yourself from laughing when Mr. Beauregard starts his Western "hurry-up" music, you need to lighten up.
In all, Sucker Bet is an slightly above average mystery novel with enough good character development, originality, and fun to make it worth reading for almost everyone. It might help to read the others in the series first (Grift Sense, Funny Money) but this could be read as a standalone as well. Swain is a fine novelist and I'm looking forward to more of his work. If you like this one, keep an eye out for the fourth Tony Valentine novel, set in his cop days of the late 70's, due out in 2004.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Casinos Will Never Look the Same to You Again 9 May 2005
By John R. Linnell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title of this book could just as easily have been "Monkey Business," and it would have been figuratively and literally correct. There is enough monkey business going on at the Micanopy Indian Casiono to keep Tony Valentine busy least a whole novel. This is the third in the Tony Valentine series and if you have not caught up with these novels yet, what on earth are you waiting for? I have now read them all and even though I started with the most recent novel first, each story pretty much stands on it's own and very little is lost buy not having read them in sequence. Valentine is a trouble shooter and problem solver for the casino industry which puts him in touch with some pretty "interesting" people on both sides of the sams he is hired to investigate. In this one he is dealing with a gangster names Rico Bianco and another bad guy by the name of Victor Marks. Swain likes to populate his novels with attractive and nubile ladies and the chief morsel in this one is a dish by the name of Candy Hart.Candy is the "raggle" who is being used as bait to swindle an aging Brtish rock star by Bianco, but on the way to the big payoff, she let her heart get in the way of her head and the plot takes a turn which makes Candy's life more interesting and fragile. The other monkey in the story is a chimp, as in chimpanzee. Mr. Beauregard by name. He has many talents. One of them is playing the ukelele. The others you will need to read the book to find out about. Swain has the knowledge, background and imagination to make his Valentine books a treat to read. Try one and you will be a fan. Guranteed!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fun than a day at the races 14 Jun 2005
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on
James Swain's Tony Valntine character is always fun. Tough, but soft; chronically depressed, but always hopeful; crafty to a fault. Valentine is an ex-cop from Atlantic City who now consults with casinos eager to catch scammers, if not stop them before they win a penny.

This is the third of the Tony Valentine mysteries. The first one ("Grift Sense") was dynamite - and each successor has gotten better.

The action takes place largely at a Florida Indian Reservation casino. A blackjack player is dealt 84 winning hands in a row, a statistical impossibility.The dealer disappears. But that's only the beginning of the story as Tony gets involved. The blackjack scam is only the tip of the iceberg.

Every page is fun. Swain's plots are complex, but always believable. The characters, each and every one of them, radiate believability.

Swain's style is compelling and Tony Valentine is one heck of a hero.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Valentine from Swain 20 April 2003
By Stephen T. Roberts - Published on
Elmore Leonard has nothing on Jim Swain: who else could mix in card hustlers, Indian gaming, a boozed-up English rock star, the Mafia, a pyschopathic killer who lives in the swamp,a couple of alligators ,an empathic chimp, as well as a few love stories, set them down in hot, simmering Florida and let them stew?
The action starts at page one and doesn't let up. Along the way we learn a little about Indian gaming laws, catch up on Tony Valentine's somewhat complicated personal life (being a retired widowed cop isn't easy with a romantically inclined neighbor and a ne'er-do-well son with an affinity for law-breaking), as well as his burgeoning business as consultant to casino security officers, and get tutored in the fine art of card counting at blackjack.
Swain manages to capture Florida perfectly ( no surprise - he's lived there for over twenty years) and can second-deal with the best. (He's also one of the best close-up deck technicians in the world.) He knows how to force a card without forcing the plot, and he keeps us guessing to the end of the book. Just when you think you've spotted your deuce, Swain turns it into an ace.
This is the third of the Tony Valentine novels, featuring a retired New Jersey, no-nonsense detective who kept things honest in Atlantic City. Tony is a straight-and-narrow guy who wears clothes that don't go out of style, just like his old-fashioned ethics. His car isn't fancy, but it runs and gets the job done. Just like its driver.
Sucker Bet was a treat.
"Hamburgers, Mr. Beauregard?"
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'd have to be a sucker not to buy this book. 14 July 2003
By Glenn - Published on
James Swain has done it once again. I've read both Grift Sense and Funny Money, the first two books in this excellent series, and believe me Sucker Bet not only meets my expectations for a new Tony Valentine mystery but exceeds them.
I've read the other reviews for the novel so I'm not going to regurgitate the same info here. I do however want to say that Mr. Swain has absolutely brought Tony (the main character, a retired cop who now runs his own business), Gerry (Tony's son) and Mabel (his neighbor and secretary) to life.
One scene that comes to mind is when Tony goes to the hospital afraid that he's just had a heart attack. Not that it's written about exhaustively but its little things like this that gives a character a life of his/her own.
If you like to read about gambling or private eye's this is a book not to be missed. Other wise read it for the entertainment value. I can't recommend this book or others in the series highly enough.
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