St. Martin's, Feb 2002, 24.95,416 pp.
In 1955, trumpet player Deacon rides the bus from Chicago to Las Vegas. He barely disembarks from the bus when Mo “the man” Weiner pages him. Deacon knows you always respond when someone called “the man” wants to see you and immediately does. Mo orders Deacon to drive two hours to Shipton Wells where he is to warn someone to go back to Los Angeles. Deacon does the job, but someone else shoots the man anyway. Deacon grabs the man's suitcase and asks Anita, a waitress he just met, to stash it for him.
Deacon realizes everyone in Vegas tries to manipulate the odds. Mo is the front for the Chicago and Los Angeles mobs and plans to make a killing on a new casino, THE IVORY COAST, that he will open in the Black West Side of town. Worthless Worthington Jones is his front with his own contrivance for a killing. Police chief Haney has his schemes to trump everyone else. All three intersect with Deacon and that suitcase he lifted, making life dangerous for the horn player.
Though Deacon trusting Anita with the booty he snatched seems strained, readers will find Charles Flemming's debut novel a fascinating look at 1950's Las Vegas. The story line is so rich with history that it makes it possible for the audience to roll with high rollers and observe the Black stars unable to eat or sleep where they performed. THE IVORY COAST is a tremendous historical intrigue that is at its finest with its fifties texture that fans of mid-twentieth century tales will enjoy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner