Loaded Dice by James Swain
(Swain, James)

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For ex-cop Tony Valentine, life in balmy Florida provides little R&R. In fact, he’s in demand now more than ever. Armed with a special grift sense, Valentine can spot card cheats and even bigger game whose sole purpose on earth is to relieve a casino of its cash. But when his son, who was going to card-counting school, goes missing, Valentine jets to Las Vegas. Once in town, he is pressed into service—and lands inside a treacherous game with higher stakes than he has ever encountered before.

There’s a new casino in town, aptly named Sin, the largest on The Strip: three thousand guest rooms and a gambling floor as big as an airport terminal. The owners of Sin want Valentine to show them how the scams are done. But these powerful men harbor ulterior motives: They want to use their newfound skills to put a rival casino out of business.

Sin’s competition is the Acropolis, run by Valentine’s longtime pal. Nick taps Tony to figure out how an amateur won $50,000 at his blackjack tables. But the small job is full of landmines. For starters, the suspect bears a strong resemblance to his late wife. What’s more, Valentine’s son is still M.I.A. Upping the ante, a dead stripper is found with Valentine’s calling card—and her grief-stricken boyfriend is vowing revenge.

Yet in a city where barracudas wear pinstripes, time seems motionless even while it flies, and reality and illusion shift depending on the neon light, a greater threat maneuvers through the streets: an all-new breed of criminal with an agenda propelled by fury that will shake not just Valentine, but the city of Las Vegas.

About James Swain

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James Swain is the national bestselling author of fourteen mystery novels. His novels have been translated into French, Japanese, Russian, German, Bulgarian, Croatian, and chosen as Mysteries of the Year by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Swain has received three Barry Award nominations, a Florida Book Award for fiction, and the prestigious Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Writing. An avid magician, he has written and lectured extensively on the subject.
Published June 1, 2004 by Ballantine Books. 320 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Loaded Dice

Publishers Weekly

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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.

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BC Books

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I am debating now how to describe my biggest hang-up with this book without ruining it for those who may read it.

May 20 2006 | Read Full Review of Loaded Dice (Swain, James)

BC Books

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I can only think of one time in my life when I was so frustrated and disappointed with a book that I threw it across the room in disgust.

May 20 2006 | Read Full Review of Loaded Dice (Swain, James)

Book Reporter

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.

Dec 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Loaded Dice (Swain, James)

Reviewing the Evidence

Tony Valentine is a retired cop who now has a consulting business, Grift Sense, that investigates and helps casino owners stop cheaters and con artists from breaking the system.

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The Best Reviews

As a gaming consultant who spots people trying to cheat casinos, Tony Valentine has friends in low places.

Jun 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Loaded Dice (Swain, James)

David G. Schwartz

Atlantic City police are involved in crimes that take place off the casino floor, and street crime incidents like purse snatching, but I’ve never heard of an ACPD detective working a casino cheating case.

May 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Loaded Dice (Swain, James)

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