From Publishers Weekly
Van Patten, a host of TV's World Poker Tour
, has teamed with veteran mystery writer Randisi to create what may be the first novel billed as a "Texas Hold'em Mystery" with so-so results. The action takes place during a major poker tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and Jimmy Spain—recently released from prison—is there both to play and to coach 22-year-old Kat Landrigan, the talented daughter of a man Spain did time with (part of a pointlessly complex backstory). But the tournament is interrupted by two murders, and, for reasons that strain credulity, Spain is asked to look into the matter. The title refers to the three playing cards discovered with each body: a jack, a queen and a king, which, when dealt together, are sometimes described as a "Picasso flop" in hold'em. Spain is an engaging, likable character, and some of the poker scenes are done with flair and knowledge, but the loose plot doesn't do justice to the fine concept. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Most mystery readers won't flip for this Flop.
But card players and others who shuffle past the first few chapters of clunky exposition and incessant plugs for the World Poker Tour (and a certain poker Web site that won't get additional exposure here) will discover an appealing setup: pro player Jimmy Spain is returning to the Texas hold 'em circuit after several years in the slammer, and he is schooling young Kat Landrigan for the rich father with whom he served time. The big complication: Kat hates her dad and doesn't know he hired her tutor. So when she is implicated in the murders of several players in a Vegas WPT tournament, Spain must keep her safe and unaware while working his way toward the final table and a potential $1.8 million score. Coauthor Randisi likely saved WPT commentator Van Patten from embarrassment here, but the veteran crime scribe also should have fixed the dropped subplot and an ending that's too convoluted by half. Bottom line: a quick, fun read despite its many flaws. Frank SennettCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved