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Loaded Dice (Tony Valentine Series Book 4) by [Swain, James]
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Loaded Dice (Tony Valentine Series Book 4) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Audible Narration:
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Swain's fourth Tony Valentine novel (after 2003's Sucker Bet) starts out on a wacky, breezy note, but the horror of a threatened terrorist attack that develops in a subplot jars in a tale centered on the seedy world of gambling and more mundane crimes like (non-mass-) murder and robbery. Tony Valentine, a retired Atlantic City cop who helps gambling casinos catch swindlers, travels to Las Vegas to show three casino owners how blackjack players use a new high-tech device to cheat. He's also checking up on his feckless son Gerry, in town to learn about illegal card-counting so he can join Tony's business. But Tony's three clients have also hired Frank Fontaine—a world-class card sharp and Tony's longtime enemy, who has FBI connections—to run a scam that will close a casino owned by Tony's friend Nick Nicocropolis. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Gerry, two new foreign friends have links to al Qaeda. An expert on casino swindles, the author packs his books with mind-boggling cons and scams—how to do them and stop them—along with entertaining dialogue and vivid characters, notably the strong, sympathetic Tony. No doubt many readers will be attracted to the timely terrorist element, but those expecting another fast-paced gambling romp may be disappointed to see Tony sidetracked.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Swain's series starring freelance casino consultant Tony Valentine has quickly established itself as one of the freshest, most entertaining hard-boiled comedies to risk setting up camp in Elmore Leonard country. In this fourth entry in the series, Valentine is in Las Vegas, on the trail of his wayward son, Gerry, who has gone AWOL from card-counting school. Mixing work with parental responsibility, Tony also agrees to help maverick casino owner Nick Nicocropolis (see Grift Sense, 2001) prevent two rival owners from putting him out of business. There's a slightly over-the-top terrorist angle, too, but if Swain is guilty of overstuffing his plot, he recovers nicely with another delicious helping of insider dope on how casinos work and how cheaters cheat. There's also plenty of snappy, Leonard-inspired banter and more charming cell-phone byplay between Tony and his devoted office manager, Mabel, the indefatigable Mrs. Moneypenny of the series. Great fun with just the right amount of edge--sort of like a night at the blackjack table. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 363 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345463269
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 1, 2004)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2004
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1QT2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,113 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I believe that the hallmark of a good book --- of a good writer --- is the ability to attract, and hold, a reader who has little or no interest in the core subject matter. James Swain, by this definition, is an excellent writer. I have little interest in or understanding of gambling, yet Swain's Tony Valentine novels, set against the backdrop of the gambling industry, are on my must-read list. Swain's knowledge of not only the nuts and bolts of the gaming industry but also of its history would be enough to hold one's interest, whether one is familiar with the relative value of poker chips or not. Swain's ability to weave this knowledge into a plausible situation while presenting his story in a compelling narrative makes his work irresistible.
Tony Valentine is a gaming consultant who is retained by casinos to identify grifters and the methods that they employ. LOADED DICE finds Valentine returning to Las Vegas for a twofold purpose. One is to demonstrate Deadlock, a computerized device that card cheats are using to rake in illegitimate blackjack pots. The other is Valentine's son, Gerry. Gerry, who has had a number of ups and downs, is in Las Vegas and attending a gambling school in order to learn the science of card counting so that he can assist Valentine in his consulting business.
Gerry, however, has gone AWOL, and Valentine fears that he is on an illegal frolic of his own. Indeed, Gerry has fallen in with two of his fellow students, brothers whose intentions are far more nefarious than cheating at gambling. While trying to ascertain Gerry's whereabouts, Valentine uncovers an ingenious plot by the owners of a string of casinos to bankrupt another house.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Readers who follow this series will certainly not be surprised to learn that Tony Valentine's son, Gerry is in big trouble. Again. Time after time, Tony has bailed Gerry out of dangerous situations; time after time, Gerry has promised to reform, and time after time, his promise is very short-lived.

Gerry is now married to a beautiful woman, much better than he deserves, and they are expecting their first child. If anything is going to cause Gerry to straighten out and fly right, you'd think this would be it, and he now agrees to take a job working for his father.

For those who haven't read this series yet, Tony Valentine is an ex-New Jersey detective and gambling expert. He retired from the police force and created a consulting business called Grift Sense. Working from his base in Florida, Tony advises casinos how to avoid getting ripped off and he specializes in catching cheaters who are attempting to defraud casinos.

So that Gerry may be better able to work in the business, Tony sends him to an underground card-counting school in Vegas. The idea, of course, is that this will enable Gerry to be better able to spot card counters. But Gerry being Gerry, it takes all of about ten minutes before he surrenders to the Dark Side, becomes involved in a scheme to rip off casinos and drops out of sight.

Gerry's wife, Yolanda, is about to give birth and of course is very worried, especially when people begin calling the house demanding that Gerry pay the money he allegedly owes them and when Yolanda finds a bag of unpaid bills hidden under the bed. Naturally she appeals to Tony who is also worried, even more so when he discovers that Gerry has charged a gun to Tony's AmEx card.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tony Valentine is probably the greatest detective when it comes to spotting gambling cheaters. A retired cop, Tony now works as a gaming consultant in Florida who is retained by casinos across the country to identify grifters and the imaginative methods they use. In "Loaded Dice" he travels to Las Vegas to demonstrate a new computerized cheating device to casino execs and to locate his son who went missing while attending a class on card counting.

Once in Vegas another casino owner, one of Valentine's friends, pleads for help to figure out how con artists are cheating at his blackjack tables before his casino goes under. Smack dab in the middle of the scam is a beautiful woman who reminds Tony of his late wife and attempts to lead him off the trail. In the meantime, Gerry is still missing and Valentine is frantically trying to find him and save his friend's casino from bankruptcy.

There are lots of twists and turns in this thriller and the pages fly by quickly. James Swain's writing style is full of energy and draws the reader into the story. I am not a gambler, but I still found Swain's technique of describing the casino operations and the scams perpetrated by cheaters to be interesting and entertaining. Swain is great at giving his characters life and it's easy to start believing they really exist. The book is jam-packed with drama and suspense, but Swain still manages to add humor to his characters and makes it is as fun as it is thrilling. And finally, he gives Valentine and his son Gerry emotional depth. There is an underlying theme of hope and forgiveness between them and of getting a second chance in life.

"Loaded Dice" is a superbly upbeat and engaging novel. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a mystery or an action thriller. But I warn you... reading this novel will turn you into a James Swain fan!
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