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Grift Sense (Tony Valentine #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  849 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Amidst the neon and the big special ugly of Las Vegas, mild-mannered Frank Fontaine is beating the brains out of the Acropolis Casino. The house cops think the dealer, a blonde named Nola, is part of the con, but no one can prove a thing. For Tony Valentine, it’s the first new scam he’s seen in decades—and maybe the best. Three things Tony knows: The blonde is guilty, the ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published May 22nd 2001)
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James Thane
Grift Sense is the debut novel by James Swain that introduces Tony Valentine. Valentine is a retired cop who now works as a consultant to gaming establishments, attempting to prevent them from being cheated.

Tony has mostly worked in New Jersey and has compiled a huge database of hustlers and crooks who attempt to defraud casinos. He doesn’t much like Las Vegas but he feels compelled to answer a call from the owner of the Acropolis, a gaudy, aging, down on the heels Vegas operation.

A gambler name
Cathy DuPont
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new hero for me, Tony Valentine! Really enjoyed this consultant and his travels. Learned a lot about gambling, too. Characters, plots, description of place...James Swain is tops in all areas. Read every Valentine book in order and none of them repeated a plot...always fresh with new faces and Swain delved deeper and deeper into the great character, Tony V. Recommended this series to numerous friends and they all are enjoying his travels. Love the guy!
Jun 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2003-reads
RATING: 3.75

Rumor has it that there are people who go to Las Vegas and win lots of money (rumor only because it's never happened to me and I can't prove it). But in a casino, a person who wins an inordinate amount of the time is likely to be cheating. And the guy at the blackjack table where Nola Briggs is dealing has hit it big three nights in a row. He plays a totally stupid game, drawing on 17, things like that, and walks away with $50,000.

When the security folks at the Acropolis Casino view
Leon Aldrich
This novel came recommended from my GR friend Cathy DuPont who sent me the first four in this series. As Cathy is batting over a 1000 with her recommendations, I started this novel back in November 2012 and then took a reading sabbatical, gorging myself on direct tv series: Weeds, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Justified, Fringe, Being Human (U.K.) and others I'll keep top secret for now.

Then I picked up a set of reading glasses, sat my ass in the chair and resumed reading Grift Sense where I left off wi
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-thriller
Grift Sense (2012) is the first in James Swain’s Tony Valentine series. The title refers to the ability of a hustler to determine when he’s being hustled. Goodreads author James Thane, a very reliable judge of crime thrillers, recommended the book and it’s another solid hit.

Tony Valentine is an ex-Atlantic City detective with a special skill—-he’s a master at identifying casino cheaters. In Las Vegas a player named Frank Fontaine has been winning at a suspiciously high rate against Nola Briggs,
GRIFT SENSE (Paid Investigator-Las Vegas-Cont) – G
Swain, James – 1st in series
Ballantine Books, 2003- Paperback
Tony Valentine is an expert at spotting gambling scams. When the Acropolis Casino has lost big to a gambler named Frank Fontaine, Tony is hired to find out how it's being done. But things really get interesting when it turns out Fontaine is actually another gambler who was supposed to have been killed years before.
*** The period felt more like the 50's than present day, and the only rea
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Start of the Tony Valentine series
He is a 60 + retired Atlantic City cop, speciality was gambling cheats. He retired, moved to Fl. and opens a consulting business for casinos when his wife dies. His neighbor is always helping and becomes his office manager.

If you are a casino fan and love blackjack you will enjoy this book. If you jsut love a good entertaining read not too heavy, you will enjoy this book
A good who done it. I couldn't put it down.
This is a new author (for me) and a great find. It introduces Tony Valentine who is a retired cop specializing in grifters - con artists. He's hired to figure out how this guy was playing 'perfect' Black Jack in a Las Vegas casino. These characters are great. There is another in the series and another coming. Yahoo!
Deb Mj
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved James Swain's Midnight Rambler and was really looking forward to this, the first in the Tony Valentine series. What a disappointment. Completely unlikeable characters across the board, with the possible exception of Tony's neighbor, Mabel. I may try one more but definitely not in any hurry to do so.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough but vulnerable casino scam detective, Tony Valentine's first case. Good series for fans of gambling scam crimes. Tony's got a soft side, but has a nose for flushing out the con men and casino cheats.
Carol Jean
Nov 24, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly disjointed and staggering from tone to tone like someone who -- well, EXACTLY like someone who keeps interrupting his own narrative to tell a silly joke. Not convincing on any level. And not funny either!
Apr 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love my Dad. He loves this book. I read this book. It was crap. Corny dialogue, caricatures instead of characters (Jersey goombahs in Vegas), I figured out the "surprise twist" ending about 25 pages in. Just terrible. I still love my Dad.
Leora Stutes
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A retired policeman whose job had been to stop gambling cheaters now has a consulting business. He's called to Las Vegas to catch some crooks. A quick read. I enjoyed it.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot going on in this one. Maybe a little too much for me, or maybe I took too long to read it. Books about grifters are always fun, so maybe I'll try the next book in the series.
May 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually don't read mysteries, but this involves gambling so I was powerless to resist. An addictive series, so watch out.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific novel. Well-written. Filled with action. Hard to put down.
I was introduced to Swain's work via his pair of Billy Cunningham
novels about a gang of card sharks, card mechanics, pickpockets, and
thieves determined to pull off Las Vegas' biggest scam. Swain's far
more lengthy Tony Valentine series preceded the Billy Cunningham
novels by at least a decade. Valentine is a retired police detective with
an eye for grifters, cheaters, and scammers.

Swain expertly paints a picture of an older g
Barbara Bingham
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's James Swain!

I love all of Swain's books! Never disappoints me. Always a pleasure reading them. I recommend all of his books.
Brian O'Leary
Decent first effort, can see the potential, but it doesn't quite tie together.
April Brown
A good read with a plot that keeps you guessing till the end. My only dislike was the language. Not a fan of all the curse words.
May 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are going to be spoilers in this review. If you don't want to see them, don't read past this first paragraph. I didn't like this book nearly as much as I wanted to. I will try to explain why.

Normally, I love a good con story. The intricacies of the plot, the good guys unraveling it, setting a trap and catching the bad guys. But in Grift Sense, I just couldn't get into it.

For one thing, none of the characters are particularly likeable. Even the hero, Tony Valentine, doesn't have much to rec
Kara Jorges
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Retired cop turned crime consultant Tony Valentine lives quietly in Florida while doing freelance work for casinos, helping them catch cheats. To avoid his estranged son Gerry, he accepts a job at the aging Acropolis on the Vegas Strip, where casino owner Nick Nicocropolis is sure he’s being ripped off by a hustler and possibly one of his dealers. The hustler walks, but the casino has blackjack dealer Nola Briggs arrested, sure she’s involved, though they need Valentine to help prove it.

The firs
Rob Kitchin
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grift Sense is a comic, crime caper where the only character that isn’t a caricature is Valentine. That’s just fine by me as that’s part of what makes these kinds of novels work – people who are larger than life, being too stupid, too greedy, too tainted, too mad, bad or narcissistic, and leading lives that most of us are fascinated by but wouldn’t want to emulate. Whilst the writing is quite perfunctory, the dialogue is snappy, the plotting is sound, and the story rattles along at a jaunty pace ...more
This takes place in Las Vegas. The author is a well-known expert in cards and gambling. He also knows all the tricks of the trade when It comes to cheating the system. Valentine is a retired cop. He now runs his own private business from his condo in Florida. I enjoyed this book and the unique aspect of the cards/gambling cheating etc. Amidst the neon and the big special ugly of Las Vegas, mild-mannered Frank Fontaine is beating the brains out of the Acropolis Casino. The house cops think the de ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have enjoyed other books by Swain, a real-life gambling expert and magician. This one is the first in a series which features Tony Valentine, a retired Atlantic City police officer who runs a one-man consulting agency called Grift Sense. Set in Las Vegas, where Tony has been called in to stop a scam being run at one of the older casinos. Lots of action and interesting characters, insights into the gaming and gambling industry, with some parts of the mystery not revealed till the very end. I defi ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a couple others in this series and decided to go back to the first. Tony Valentine is a retired detective who has started a business, "Grift Sense". The business caters to casinos who believe they're being cheated. I blew through this book as I did the others.

It's a different kind of thriller, but one I really enjoyed. I look forward to reading the rest of the Tony Valentine series.
E.R. Yatscoff
Even if you don't care for casinos and gambling there's enough oddball characters and events in here to keep you entertained. And that's all readers really want. Tony Valentine is brought in to investigate a casino scam and has a sharp eye. No one believes him at first but he's persistent and pushes through. Tony is honest to a fault as there are pitfalls along the way that he chooses not to fall victim too. My BOOK # 48 READ FOR 2015
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Tony Valentine series.

Tony Valentine, a retired Atlantic City cop and an expert on casino cheats, is hired by a Las Vegas casino to uncover how a consistent winner is cheating the casino. He suspects that Nola, the dealer, is an accomplice. However, it appears that the cheat is an old nemesis from New Jersey and the obvious score is only a prelude.
Oct 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
A great read. The Tony Valentine character is a great creation, and the author's knowledge of gambling and gaming is really an asset in his very effective scene-setting.

I hope there are many more.
Tony Valentine - a near geriatric former cop formerly of atlantic city, lives in south florida, works in vegas when he has to, sharp cookie, and bane of shills, cross-roaders, and general cheaters of casinos. Fascinating fictional crime that is an elaborate plot to pull off something simple.
Donna Fowler
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I throughly enjoyed getting to know Tony Valentine and all the characters in Grift Sense. It kept me entertained and guessing right up to the end. I look forward to reading the next in the series and the next and etc.
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James Swain is the national best selling author of seventeen mystery novels, and has been published in twelve different languages. His books have been chosen as Mysteries of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and have received three Barry Award nominations, a Florida Book Award for Fiction, and France’s prestigious Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Fiction. Born in Huntingto ...more
More about James Swain

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