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Loaded Dice (Swain, James) Hardcover – 2 Feb 2005

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Product Description


" Leaves us wanting more of this pulsing, buoyant book."
- "Los Angeles Times"
" Loaded Dice, like all Tony Valentine novels, is pure entertainment."
- "San Jose" "Mercury News"
" This smooth, funny series has got to be one of the finds of the decade."
- "Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)
" The author packs his books with mind-boggling cons and scams- how to do them, how to stop them- along with entertaining dialogue and vivid characters, [most] notably the strong, sympathetic Tony."
- "Publishers Weekly"

"Leaves us wanting more of this pulsing, buoyant book."
-"Los Angeles Times"

"Loaded Dice, like all Tony Valentine novels, is pure entertainment."
-"San Jose""Mercury News"

"This smooth, funny series has got to be one of the finds of the decade."
-"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)

"The author packs his books with mind-boggling cons and scams-how to do them, how to stop them-along with entertaining dialogue and vivid characters, [most] notably the strong, sympathetic Tony."
-"Publishers Weekly"

Leaves us wanting more of this pulsing, buoyant book.
"Los Angeles Times"
Loaded Dice, like all Tony Valentine novels, is pure entertainment.
"San Jose" "Mercury News"
This smooth, funny series has got to be one of the finds of the decade.
"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)
The author packs his books with mind-boggling cons and scams how to do them, how to stop them along with entertaining dialogue and vivid characters, [most] notably the strong, sympathetic Tony.
"Publishers Weekly"" --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

When Tony Valentine, a master at catching casino cheaters, jets to Las Vegas to look for his missing son, he lands in the middle of a dangerous turf war between rival casinos. Valentine's longtime pal then taps him to figure out how an amateur won $25,000 at his blackjack tables. But the job is full of land mines. For starters, the suspect bears a strong resemblance to his late wife. Upping the ante, a dead stripper is found with Valentine's calling card-and her grief-stricken policeman boyfriend is vowing revenge.
Yet in a city where barracudas wear pinstripes, and reality and illusion shift depending on the neon light, a greater threat maneuvers through the streets: an all-new breed of criminal with an agenda propelled by fury that will shake not only Valentine, but the city of Las Vegas itself. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x96b51e1c) out of 5 stars 48 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x950478e8) out of 5 stars A Compelling Narrative and an Irresistible Work 6 Jun. 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I believe that the hallmark of a good book --- of a good writer --- is the ability to attract, and hold, a reader who has little or no interest in the core subject matter. James Swain, by this definition, is an excellent writer. I have little interest in or understanding of gambling, yet Swain's Tony Valentine novels, set against the backdrop of the gambling industry, are on my must-read list. Swain's knowledge of not only the nuts and bolts of the gaming industry but also of its history would be enough to hold one's interest, whether one is familiar with the relative value of poker chips or not. Swain's ability to weave this knowledge into a plausible situation while presenting his story in a compelling narrative makes his work irresistible.
Tony Valentine is a gaming consultant who is retained by casinos to identify grifters and the methods that they employ. LOADED DICE finds Valentine returning to Las Vegas for a twofold purpose. One is to demonstrate Deadlock, a computerized device that card cheats are using to rake in illegitimate blackjack pots. The other is Valentine's son, Gerry. Gerry, who has had a number of ups and downs, is in Las Vegas and attending a gambling school in order to learn the science of card counting so that he can assist Valentine in his consulting business.
Gerry, however, has gone AWOL, and Valentine fears that he is on an illegal frolic of his own. Indeed, Gerry has fallen in with two of his fellow students, brothers whose intentions are far more nefarious than cheating at gambling. While trying to ascertain Gerry's whereabouts, Valentine uncovers an ingenious plot by the owners of a string of casinos to bankrupt another house. Valentine finds himself racing along twin tracks, trying to save a casino while extricating his son from a situation that is on the brink of creating havoc on the city of Las Vegas and its residents.
Swain does an excellent job of explaining the ins and outs not only of casino gambling but also of casino management. What is especially impressive about Swain is that his narrative never lurches to a grinding halt while a particular aspect of his subject matter is explained. Swain seamlessly incorporates his explanation, frequently with the use of anecdotes, into the narrative. As a result the reader learns the meaning of the term "past-posting," finds out what a "sawdust joint" is, and discovers that "four-walling" is a tough way to earn a living. Swain also pulls off the neat trick of bringing a noir feel and atmosphere to Las Vegas, that most brightly illuminated of American cities.
Yet LOADED DICE is not your typical thriller. Valentine is in his sixties, but he has aged well, to say the least. For those of us who are closer to that chronological benchmark than we like to admit, it's gratifying to read a series that presents a senior citizen who is able to show the younger set how the job gets done. LOADED DICE is also, perhaps most importantly, a story of forgiveness and redemption, of second and even third chances, of mistakes and corrections. There is something for everyone in LOADED DICE.
Swain has, over the short course of a few novels (this is his fourth), created a memorable and riveting series and character. Don't miss LOADED DICE, or Swain.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9504793c) out of 5 stars FIRST-CLASS LAS VEGAS CASINO THRILLER 23 Nov. 2005
By Possum-Bread - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tony Valentine is probably the greatest detective when it comes to spotting gambling cheaters. A retired cop, Tony now works as a gaming consultant in Florida who is retained by casinos across the country to identify grifters and the imaginative methods they use. In "Loaded Dice" he travels to Las Vegas to demonstrate a new computerized cheating device to casino execs and to locate his son who went missing while attending a class on card counting.

Once in Vegas another casino owner, one of Valentine's friends, pleads for help to figure out how con artists are cheating at his blackjack tables before his casino goes under. Smack dab in the middle of the scam is a beautiful woman who reminds Tony of his late wife and attempts to lead him off the trail. In the meantime, Gerry is still missing and Valentine is frantically trying to find him and save his friend's casino from bankruptcy.

There are lots of twists and turns in this thriller and the pages fly by quickly. James Swain's writing style is full of energy and draws the reader into the story. I am not a gambler, but I still found Swain's technique of describing the casino operations and the scams perpetrated by cheaters to be interesting and entertaining. Swain is great at giving his characters life and it's easy to start believing they really exist. The book is jam-packed with drama and suspense, but Swain still manages to add humor to his characters and makes it is as fun as it is thrilling. And finally, he gives Valentine and his son Gerry emotional depth. There is an underlying theme of hope and forgiveness between them and of getting a second chance in life.

"Loaded Dice" is a superbly upbeat and engaging novel. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a mystery or an action thriller. But I warn you... reading this novel will turn you into a James Swain fan!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95047c18) out of 5 stars Desert Dessert 1 Dec. 2004
By G. Ware Cornell Jr. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A great mystery or thriller is really about something else. Here Swain explores the mysteries of fatherhood from cradle to adulthood within the context of another primer on casino crime and the War against Terror.

Jerry, Tony's son, has gone to Vegas to learn how to count cards at a shadowy school for cheats. Nick surmises that Tony's purpose was not only to help teach Jerry how to catch cheaters but to see how well he was able to resist the temptations of cheating. By all objective standards Jerry can't, falling in with a couple of Middle-Eastern card counters with more than larceny on their minds.

Tony arrives in Vegas to teach three casino operators about a new Palm Pocket-like device called a Deadlock that can dramatically change the odds in the bettor's favor. Once there he becomes wrapped up in a new love interest as well as failing fortunes of Nick, whose Acropolis casino is rapidly heading for the dustbin of history. When Jerry's companions attract the attention of the FBI, the usually fast paced Swain slips into hyper drive. Then the tale rockets along to a thrilling climax in the desert suburbs.

This series may well be the most important new arrival since Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch made their debut. It's pure pleasure from start to finish.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9504b15c) out of 5 stars Vegas like you've never seen it 1 Jun. 2004
By Frankie - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Tony Valentine is in Las Vegas to check up on his son, a reformed bookie who's joined his father's casino consulting business (his father catches cheaters). To say much more about this book would be ruining half the fun -- the breathless action, depictions of the seemy side of Las Vegas, amazing casino scams, and the extraordinary cast of characters -- make this a terrific read, with an ending as good as any I've read in the genre.
This is the 4th book in the Grift Sense series, and the author should be given credit for coming up with a unique protagonist in Valentine, and his one genre of crime writing. After reading this book, you will not be able to gamble in a casino, and feel the same way again.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9504b174) out of 5 stars A great Character gets greater 12 Jun. 2004
By Media Man - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The twists and turns just keep on coming. I did not think that Tony Valentines Character could grow any further and Jim Swain was able to take him to the next level. Who would think you could take a major event such as 9/11 and tie it into a casino racket in Las Vegas!!!! Wow!!
Mr. Swain was able to put me on the edge of my seat or in some cases the edge of my bed based on the curves and changes he throws at us!!
Finally, I still don't know how he can take an awful person as Gerry and make him even worse but by the end you still feel bad for him and want to give him another chance.
Let me sum it up by saying HOME RUN!!! and can't wait for future novels.
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