Tony Valentine is getting a bit long in the tooth. He is over sixty now and can't bounce back from a beating with quite the speed of a younger guy.
So if you are James Swain and you understand that your cerebral hero must also be a man of action, you have to bring on someone to help Tony. And so we have Tony's son Gerry. His rough edges are sandpapered to a new smoothness. His flaws are prologue, but his present is blemish-free. tony doesn't worry anymore if Gerry's former profession-bookmaking-will get him killed. He worries if the people who want to kill Tony will kill Gerry for being just like Tony.
And this is the major flaw in this edition. The grifters are there, where they belong on the casino floors, and the scammers and the politician dance their symbiotic mating call. But it is Gerry not Tony who emerges at the end.
Just maybe, Swain is right. Tony needs someone to take the beatings. Or just maybe some editor has becided this for Swain. Time...
Though there is a solid string of mostly 5-star reviews that contradict my opinion, I found James Swain a bit off his game in "Deadman's Bluff". This is by no means a bad novel; rather, Swain's "grift sense" is beginning to feel just a bit formulaic and a little tired.
As in all of Swain's novels, retired Atlantic City casino cop Tony Valentine is an unusual and refreshing hero. Swain's real-life experience and wry humor keep all of his stories moving through a banter of cheats and scams and the colorful characters who perpetrate them, building a convincing case for staying away from the casinos where Swain - and his surrogate Valentine - have spent most of their lives. Swain is no fan of legalized gambling and it's impact on Atlantic City - a passion he unloads without apology in this tale of mobsters and con men told in parallel lines between Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The venue is the world's largest poker tournament with a $10M prize that Valentine believes is...
Another in the author's series of novels featuring Tony Valentine, who consults with casinos and law-enforcement about gambling scams and scammers.
In this tale, the second of two parts ("Deadman's Poker" being the first), Valentine remains in Las Vegas to discover how a blind poker player is scamming a poker tournament, which is being televised nationally by an ESPN-like cable sports network. Meanwhile his son Gerry goes to Atlantic City, where the scam originated, to find out what he can learn there.
Two of the characters from "Poker" reappear--Gloria, a female reporter for the network, who Valentine develops a relationship with, and a 72-year-old grifter named Rufus, who among other "wagers" bets that he can win a pingpong match against a champion.
There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, and the side-stories about other scams are as always a treat. I didn't mind at all that it took the author 700 pages, total, to finish the story.
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