Grift Sense by James Swain
(Tony Valentine Novels)

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grift sense "n" 1: the instinct for spotting a scam 2: the knack for hustling a hustler 3: the ability to out-con a con 4: what Tony Valentine has in spades Meet Tony Valentine -- former cop, lifelong misanthrope, and sixtysomething freelance grifter-hunter. He's also something of a legend -- and not just among the retirees of Palm Harbor, Florida. There isn't a pit boss from the boardwalk of Atlantic City to Las Vegas' main drag who hasn't called on Valentine to dump the grifters out with the trash. He has never thought twice about seeing every one of them rot in jail. So much for his sentimental side. Then along comes his new job. Her name is Nola Briggs, a honey-blond blackjack dealer from Las Vegas who's behind bars without a prayer in the world. Unless you count Valentine -- and even "he" wouldn't bet on her innocence. Likewise Nick Nicocropolis, the owner of the Acropolis Casino & Resort. He's got Nola on camera playing crooked blackjack to a shark named Frank Fontaine. Now Frank has disappeared, leaving his alleged accomplice to take the heat. All Valentine's got to play with is Nola. She isn't saying a word. Valentine's plan: post a reasonable bail, turn her loose, and see how -- and where -- she runs. Shadowing a woman like Nola leads Valentine into a lethal world of greedy hustlers, bloodthirsty hit men, corrupt police, and a Las Vegas underworld that's taking him down with it. He counted on that; what he didn't count on is just how innocent Nola appears to be when her past starts showing. Or how many people want her out of the picture. Unfortunately neither Nola nor Valentine knows why. And it's going to be tough as hell for them to survive anenemy's vendetta when they don't know who their enemies are -- or where they're hiding. With its bullet-fast pace, triple-crossing plot twists, diamond-hard prose, winning characters, and neon-soaked setting, Grift sense marks the ascendancy of an author with a "been-there, done-that" attitude -- and a talent for the literary sucker punch in the tradition of Laurence Shames and Elmore Leonard.

About James Swain

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James Swain, a gambling expert and magician, is considered one of the best card handlers in the world. He lives in Odessa, Florida.
Published May 22, 2001 by Pocket Books. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Grift Sense

Kirkus Reviews

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The high rollers at the Acropolis Casino are supposed to lose money, but Frank Fontaine knows entirely too much about when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

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Publishers Weekly

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The domestic scenes in the book, with Tony's neighbor Mabel or his son Gerry, are a little stilted and unconvincing, but the heart of the book lies in the dubious charms of a second-rate Las Vegas casino, and there the author does a terrific job.

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Reviewing the Evidence

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.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Tony has grift sense, the ability to sense a scam even before it happens, and when the Acropolis calls him in on the blackjack scam, Tony's nose smells something a lot fishier in the wind.

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