Maddy's Reviews > Grift Sense

Grift Sense by James Swain
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's review
Jun 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2003-reads
Read in December, 2003

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 the tapes, they can't see that the man has been cheating or the dealer helping him. Since the casino is one of the least successful in Vegas, they can't afford those kinds of losses. So they call in an expert who's helped in the casinos in Atlantic City, a 62-year old ex-cop with grift sense by the name of Tony Valentine. Valentine has a nose for hustlers, and he immediately knows that the game is rigged, even if it's not clear how.

Even though Tony is an expert, he's having trouble figuring out how Frank Fontaine is pulling off his scam. Something about him nags at Tony, and he reaches way back into the past to discover that he's dealing with one of the most skilled grifters in the business. Working with the security folks, Valentine needs to predict when he will hit again and scam the scammer.

There's a fun cast of characters in the book, starting with Tony, torn between protecting his estranged son and continuing with the job; Tony's neighbor, Mabel, who writes outrageous classified ads for kicks; and the casino owner, Nick, who is a sucker for a beautiful woman. There's not a lot of depth to most of the characters, but that's to be expected, as most of the focus is on the con.

GRIFT SENSE is the first book in the series. The author has some insider knowledge, since he is a professional magician who is very adept at card tricks and manipulation. It's really interesting to see how Las Vegas casinos protect themselves from cheaters. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series, hopefully before my next vacation to Aruba where I like to engage in a hand or two of blackjack.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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James Thane I really liked this series, although it seemed to me that the earlier books were the better ones. I'll be anxious to see what you think of the others.

Skip I sure wish he would write more of them.

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