Ballantine, Jun 2004, 22.95, 320 pp.
Acropolis casino owner Nick Nicocropolis asks former Atlantic City cop turned international gaming consultant Tony Valentine to ascertain how an apparent blackjack novice using a card to explain the rules could win $25,000. Tony, who happens to be in town showing off the latest electronic cheating gizmo Deadlock, agrees. Also strange is the fact that the tyro winner Lucy Price also complains that someone stole her booty from the safe in her room.
Stripper-dancer Kris Blake happens to be the girlfriend of Las Vegas Police Lieutenant Pete Longo until he finds her dead and Tony's business card advertising Grift Sense among other evidence that the consultant sees among his beloved's belongings. Pete plans to hang Tony legally or not for he blames him for Kris' death.
Besides his troubles with Pete and the police and his dealing with Lucy, Tony's woes come in threes. His pathetic son Gerry is attending school in town studying for an advanced degree in illegal card counting. Gerry's new friends from class are not the type you introduce to your wife, kid, or especially your father the ex-cop. Gerry always means strife for Tony. All three scenarios will come together with Tony being the point of convergence.
The Grift Sense series is some of the most amusing best sleuth tales on the market over the past few years. James Swain rolls a seven with his latest caper, LOADED DICE. The story line leisurely constructs a series of casino cheating culminating with the homicide of Kris.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner