Bad Action, by James Swain. Thomas & Mercer. 386 pages. Trade paperback $15.95, Kindle e-book $5.99.
This, the second title in Mr. Swain’s Billy Cunningham Series, continues to explore the exciting and often disgusting world of Las Vegas casinos. Billy knows how the resort casinos fleece their customers. The casino owners control the odds and seem to have the gaming commission in their pockets. Still a young man, Billy has already had great successes walking away from the casinos with huge piles of money. The casinos would be better off if Billy was found dead, and threats to his existence should shake his confidence.
However, he doesn’t know a way of life that would thrill him more. He and the members of his carefully selected and proven team operate like a family; they all play by the rules of the cheater’s code.
Now, after a year in the planning, Billy’s biggest score is in sight. Each team member knows his or her part, and there has been no shortage of rehearsals. Yes, essentially they put on a play that has been carefully scripted by Billy. Billy’s part is to play “the whale,” the extremely wealthy and seemingly addicted gambler who will drop a huge bundle at the Carnivale Casino. Though he and his team are booked at the Rio, Billy is sure a Carnevale VIP host will lure them away from the Rio by offering huge incentives. Billy’s convincing role-play will set the invitation and the benefit package in motion.
Billy isn’t ready yet to share his secrets with the full team, though one of them knows about the mechanics of the scam that will lessen the house odds at the roulette wheel and insure that someone at the table wins when betting his “lucky numbers.” The secret only Billy knows is how they will get the casino to pay off. After all, an improbable lucky streak is a red flag to casino operators.
Mr. Swain invents roadblocks to Billy’s success during the countdown to the roulette action at the Carnivale. Mobsters are after him, gaming commission authorities are in his way, and he manages to get arrested after he kills someone in a confrontation. The author’s sure sense of how the gaming industry works allows him to build a sequence of vivid, suspenseful action scenes with authority. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 22, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the June 23 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter, and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Bad Action