- Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc. (26 May 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345463277
- ISBN-13: 978-0345463272
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2 x 17.5 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,145,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Loaded Dice (Tony Valentine) Mass Market Paperback – 26 May 2006
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" 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.
"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
-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."
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Gerry is now married to a beautiful woman, much better than he deserves, and they are expecting their first child. If anything is going to cause Gerry to straighten out and fly right, you'd think this would be it, and he now agrees to take a job working for his father.
For those who haven't read this series yet, Tony Valentine is an ex-New Jersey detective and gambling expert. He retired from the police force and created a consulting business called Grift Sense. Working from his base in Florida, Tony advises casinos how to avoid getting ripped off and he specializes in catching cheaters who are attempting to defraud casinos.
So that Gerry may be better able to work in the business, Tony sends him to an underground card-counting school in Vegas. The idea, of course, is that this will enable Gerry to be better able to spot card counters. But Gerry being Gerry, it takes all of about ten minutes before he surrenders to the Dark Side, becomes involved in a scheme to rip off casinos and drops out of sight.
Gerry's wife, Yolanda, is about to give birth and of course is very worried, especially when people begin calling the house demanding that Gerry pay the money he allegedly owes them and when Yolanda finds a bag of unpaid bills hidden under the bed. Naturally she appeals to Tony who is also worried, even more so when he discovers that Gerry has charged a gun to Tony's AmEx card.
Tony heads out to Vegas, ostensibly to advise some casino owners about a new high-tech device designed to make it easy to rip off blackjack tables, but really to find Gerry and get him back on the straight and narrow. Once there, he discovers that his old friend Nick Nicocropolis is also in trouble. Nick owns an aging resort and casino and a couple of competitors are trying to run him out of business so that they can buy his casino on the cheap and bulldoze it. To this end, they've hired a gang of cheaters to bankrupt him. Nick appeals to Tony for help and, as long as Tony is in town, of course he'll do what he can.
In the meantime, Gerry is refusing to answer his phone and it quickly becomes clear that he's fallen in with some very bad and dangerous people. Not only his freedom but his very life may be in danger, and even his father may not be able to rescue him this time.
Like the first three entries in this series, this is a breezy and very entertaining novel. The characters and the dialog are great and, as always, it's a lot of fun watching Tony uncover and explain the various ways that people attempt to cheat at gambling. I'm giving the book three stars rather than four because at the end the plot veers off in a way that seems not only implausible but totally inappropriate for a book in this series. Overall, though, the book is a lot of fun and fans of Tony Valentine will certainly want to find it. Other potential readers who might be curious about the series would be better off looking for Grift Sense, the book that introduces Tony Valentine.
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!
Much more is at stake, however, when Gerry Valentine teams up with a couple guys from card counting school who are up to no good. Ripping off casinos is only a part of the evil schemes his new companions are up to, and soon Gerry is in so deep he has no one but the old man to turn to.
While not as much fun as Swain's last effort, and relying a bit heavily on a cast of warmed-over characters from his first novel, this is nonetheless another entertaining tale in the Tony Valentine saga. We get a few more peeks into the characters, but I could have used a tad more, since Valentine's last novel was so good.
All of this is by way of saying that Loaded Dice is a good step along the path of a long running series which promises a lot of entertainment and a bit of insight. Then too I guess I sort of identify with a sixty year old, semi retired hero. I' ve become a little dulled by the never aging Florida heroes. This is fun reading, spend a buck or two and enjoy. Just watch out, you might end up reading all four of these.
Story starts out from a pretty simple premise, but new layers/complications keep getting added until you've got yourself a full-blown terrorist threat. The events are a bit of a reach, but close enough that it doesn't lose you.
Naturally, Tony saves the day with an ending that's a bit over the top. But the rest of the story is pretty grounded and plausible. And the characters are vividly sketched, with many of them, including Tony, being quite likeable and empathetic.
And, of course, there are any number of subplots going on all the while - Tony's son, new baby, solving various cheating schemes (usually in, like, 5 seconds which streches credibility a bit - especially the one where his assistant figures out a cheating scheme over the phone by reading a textbook). But anyway, the subplots all tie in somehow and help to keep things moving quickly without getting too convoluted.
So, very solid effort and I recommend this as a perfect beach read, long flight, etc.