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Sucker Bet (Tony Valentine Novel) Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
Book 3 of 9 in the Tony Valentine Series

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$7.99 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 19 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the mystery genre, there's always room for a new premise, and Swain has come up with a doozy: his hero, Tony Valentine, is an ex-cop who specializes in catching casino cheats. The downside of the job is that Tony must work for casino owners, which is why, as this third entry in the high-spirited series begins, he is on the lam, enjoying a romance with a lady wrestler and even participating in the odd tag-team match. But when the romance founders and Tony gets a summons from the head of security at Florida's Micanopy Indian Reservation Casino, he heads for the Everglades. The scam is several layers deep--crooked blackjack dealers and fixed basketball games play roles, along with a couple of nasty alligators eager to test Tony's wrestling skills. The gambling details are a treat, the banter is worthy of a place at Elmore Leonard's table, and the Floridian sense of absurdity draws on Hiaasen without seeming derivative. With a new publisher willing to back Tony's play, Swain's ship just may have come in. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Ingenious entertainment.”
The New York Times Book Review

St. Petersburg Times

“[Swain is] an entertaining writer whose breezy style and flair for wise-guy dialogue make the story zoom by.”
The Boston Globe

Chicago Tribune

James Swain is the best new writer I have come across in a long, long time. Sucker Bet is wonderful. It snaps with the gritty feel of the truth. Swain has carefully added all of the ingredients: tragedy, humor, action, and most of all, a cast of characters that would make Elmore Leonard’s mouth water.”

“Realistic, crisp dialogue spoken by three-dimensional characters . . . Swain moves Sucker Bet from the condos and hotels of Miami Beach to the suburbs of West Broward and the Everglades with a keen eye to the area.”
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Sucker Bet is sheer magic. Fast and full or surprises, and rich with fascinating insider knowledge of casinos and gambling and world-class con men and bad guys of every denomination. James Swain is the real thing, a writer of pure, athletic prose, capable of bringing alive characters as original and three-dimensional as our best novelists. . . . Sign me up as a charter member of the Swain fan club.”—JAMES W. HALL
Author of Blackwater Sound

“Swain has come up with a doozy. . . . The gambling details are a treat [and] the banter is worthy of a place at Elmore Leonard’s table. . . . Swain’s ship just JUNE have come in.”

Product Details

  • Series: Tony Valentine Novel
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett; 1st Mass Market 1st Printing edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345463234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345463234
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,126,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Swain is the author of eighteen national bestselling novels. His books have been translated into twelve foreign languages, and chosen as Mysteries of the Year by Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Swain has received three Barry Award nominations, a Florida Book award for fiction,the prestigious Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Writing, and was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning with Anthony Mason. An avid sleight-of-hand magician, he has written and lectured extensively on the subject. Visit his web site at www.jamesswain.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
James Swain writes fun books. I can't imagine anyone who would not enjoy his latest. It's the third novel featuring Tony Valentine, a retired former cop who now works as a casino consultant catching cheaters. He's a little older than your usual protagonist, but that only makes him more endearing. He's a pretty well developed character as well. His difficulty interacting with his son and his neglect of his caring neighbor show the reader that he is far from perfect. However, what he does is catch cheats, or crossroaders as Swain calls them, and at that, he is very good indeed.
Swain's books are worth reading if only for the insight into the world of scams, cheats, and hustlers that he gives us. Each of his three books revolves around Valentine's investigation of a major scam. In Sucker Bet, it begins with a blackjack hustle but moves quickly into a major college sports scandal. While he is investigating, Tony frequently gets calls from worried customers asking him to look at security video or inventory lists and determine how their casino is getting scammed. These little episodes, while not really part of the plot, are some of the best parts of the book.
Aside from the scams and grifts, hidden in each of his books is a pretty good mystery too. People end up dead and Tony in drawn in through his inevestigation. As with most novels of this type, Valentine's life and the lives of those he cares about are endangered. While there are better mytery novels out there, few can match the originality of James Swain.
Sucker Bet also includes perhaps one of the best characters I've ever read about. He is a chimpanzee named Mr. Beauregard, and he is amazing. I won't give too much away, but if you can keep yourself from laughing when Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of this book could just as easily have been "Monkey Business," and it would have been figuratively and literally correct. There is enough monkey business going on at the Micanopy Indian Casiono to keep Tony Valentine busy for...well...at least a whole novel. This is the third in the Tony Valentine series and if you have not caught up with these novels yet, what on earth are you waiting for? I have now read them all and even though I started with the most recent novel first, each story pretty much stands on it's own and very little is lost buy not having read them in sequence. Valentine is a trouble shooter and problem solver for the casino industry which puts him in touch with some pretty "interesting" people on both sides of the sams he is hired to investigate. In this one he is dealing with a gangster names Rico Bianco and another bad guy by the name of Victor Marks. Swain likes to populate his novels with attractive and nubile ladies and the chief morsel in this one is a dish by the name of Candy Hart.Candy is the "raggle" who is being used as bait to swindle an aging Brtish rock star by Bianco, but on the way to the big payoff, she let her heart get in the way of her head and the plot takes a turn which makes Candy's life more interesting and fragile. The other monkey in the story is a chimp, as in chimpanzee. Mr. Beauregard by name. He has many talents. One of them is playing the ukelele. The others you will need to read the book to find out about. Swain has the knowledge, background and imagination to make his Valentine books a treat to read. Try one and you will be a fan. Guranteed!
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Format: Hardcover
James Swain's Tony Valntine character is always fun. Tough, but soft; chronically depressed, but always hopeful; crafty to a fault. Valentine is an ex-cop from Atlantic City who now consults with casinos eager to catch scammers, if not stop them before they win a penny.

This is the third of the Tony Valentine mysteries. The first one ("Grift Sense") was dynamite - and each successor has gotten better.

The action takes place largely at a Florida Indian Reservation casino. A blackjack player is dealt 84 winning hands in a row, a statistical impossibility.The dealer disappears. But that's only the beginning of the story as Tony gets involved. The blackjack scam is only the tip of the iceberg.

Every page is fun. Swain's plots are complex, but always believable. The characters, each and every one of them, radiate believability.

Swain's style is compelling and Tony Valentine is one heck of a hero.

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Format: Hardcover
Elmore Leonard has nothing on Jim Swain: who else could mix in card hustlers, Indian gaming, a boozed-up English rock star, the Mafia, a pyschopathic killer who lives in the swamp,a couple of alligators ,an empathic chimp, as well as a few love stories, set them down in hot, simmering Florida and let them stew?
The action starts at page one and doesn't let up. Along the way we learn a little about Indian gaming laws, catch up on Tony Valentine's somewhat complicated personal life (being a retired widowed cop isn't easy with a romantically inclined neighbor and a ne'er-do-well son with an affinity for law-breaking), as well as his burgeoning business as consultant to casino security officers, and get tutored in the fine art of card counting at blackjack.
Swain manages to capture Florida perfectly ( no surprise - he's lived there for over twenty years) and can second-deal with the best. (He's also one of the best close-up deck technicians in the world.) He knows how to force a card without forcing the plot, and he keeps us guessing to the end of the book. Just when you think you've spotted your deuce, Swain turns it into an ace.
This is the third of the Tony Valentine novels, featuring a retired New Jersey, no-nonsense detective who kept things honest in Atlantic City. Tony is a straight-and-narrow guy who wears clothes that don't go out of style, just like his old-fashioned ethics. His car isn't fancy, but it runs and gets the job done. Just like its driver.
Sucker Bet was a treat.
"Hamburgers, Mr. Beauregard?"
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