The Purple Mantis Hotel by David Swanagon

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Despite a bit too much time discussing business details, a wild tale with an intriguing protagonist who just might crack.


Set in Las Vegas, Nevada:

In a city known for its lights, three thousand are about to go dark unless Paul Goldstein can find a way to pull The Mantis out of bankruptcy. The sprawling $3.2B property located next to the Bellagio was assumed by Frankfurt Securities after the economic collapse. Hiring Paul as its interim CEO, the bank gave him twelve months to create a profitable brand and casino operation. Otherwise, the half-finished project would be demolished and sold to competitors as parking space.

Ambitious, but tied to an undisclosed partnership with the gang MS-13, Paul hatches a strategy that unapologetically straddles the line between deception and criminality. In what should take years to accomplish, he has only a few months to obtain a gaming license, negotiate a union contract, build a slot database, and entice high-end players from the Asian marketing segment. Finally, he must host a lavish New Year’s Eve party that exceeds anything the strip has ever seen.

Since his strategy requires the road less traveled, Paul hires a desperately situated Marine as his Chief of Staff. Depressed and suffering from PTSD, Danillo Bacci struggles to overcome an impoverished past which includes drug running, larceny, and murder—the last not simply a result of his military service. In exchange for MS-13 protecting his brother in prison, Danillo cautiously agrees to assist Paul in bringing his vision to life. As the two march steadily towards New Year’s Eve, their descent into the strip’s subculture forces them to make an assortment of moral compromises. Eventually, anything goes as friendships are betrayed, regulators kidnapped, and bodies left in the desert. As Jay Z finally takes the stage for the Grand Opening Party, Paul and Danillo both realize that the price they paid for success was irrevocable.

Serving as both a celebration and indictment of Las Vegas, this story powerfully describes a subculture that few know about. Interwoven within the chapters are real industry terms, behind the scene hangouts, and casino marketing strategies. Taken together, they showcase a city that is almost too surreal and morally out of bounds to believe. As each character becomes consumed by the need for social status, the cold realities that underlie a major property opening are exposed in glaring detail—executive greed, political corruption, criminal enterprises, female exploitation, and homelessness. By the end, the reader is left with a looming but unanswerable question, “That can’t be what happens there. Can it?”

About David Swanagon

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Mr. Swanagon works as a talent management leader for one of the largest energy companies in the world. Prior to moving to Saudi Arabia, he served as the Director of the CEO Office of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. In addition, Mr. Swanagon was a Performance Management leader for Las Vegas Sands Corp--owner of the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts.
Published June 9, 2015 389 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Above average
on Jun 11 2015

Despite a bit too much time discussing business details, a wild tale with an intriguing protagonist who just might crack.

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