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17 March 2013

James Swain: Jackpot (Tony Valentine series)

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This is the first time I have read a book by James Swain, and after "Jackpot (Tony Valentine series)" I will certainly be reading more of his books. He is a great story-teller and moves the plot along at a gallop to keep the pages turning.

This book gives a fascinating introduction to the world of gambling and the constant battle to prevent fraud. Tony Valentine is an ex-cop who is an expert in identifying all kinds of gambling fraud throughout the world. He is hired by the Governor of Nevada to track down someone who is fixing slot machines so they pay out jackpots on demand when Nevada gambling security have checked that the machines are working OK.

Tony's son, Gerry, has grown up on the wild side and has been involved in some gambling scams in his time. With a wife and young child, Gerry is maturing and for the first time uses his illegal experiences to help Tony to identify scams that are familiar to him.

Both of them get involved in tracking down Bronco Marchese, a long-time scammer and cold-blooded killer. Tony and Gerry have a score to settle as Bronco gunned down and killed Tony's brother. Bronco is involved in the big scam which he believes will give him the win of a lifetime.

Swain gives us an amusing sideline when, in Tony's absence, Valentine's assistant, Mabel, has to deal with a case of fraud in a Casino run by an Indian tribe. Her relationship with the tribe and especially Chief Running Bear is absolutely fascinating.

While this book can be read stand-alone it probably would have been better if I had read other books in the series first. I plan to do that soon in both the Tony Valentine and Jack Carpenter series.


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