Free today: Grift Sense (Tony Valentine #1) by James Swain, first published by Ballantine Books in Hardcover, 2001. I enjoyed reading this several years ago and highly recommend it.
The New York Times Review of Books
Have you heard the one about the canny granny who won a pot of money by card-counting on her rosary beads? How about the mother-and-son team whose method of palming cards at the blackjack table was ''pure poetry''? And what about the sweet techniques of guys like Jake the Snake and Larry the Lightbulb? James Swain, who came to his expertise on gambling hustles by way of his skills as a sleight-of-hand magician, uses the crooked play of these inspired cheats to pull us into GRIFT SENSE, a flashy, funny novel about a cool scam to break the bank at a Las Vegas casino.
When Nick Nicocropolis gets wind that someone is out to bring down his establishment, the grandly named but barely solvent Acropolis, he does the smart thing by calling in Tony Valentine, an ex-cop with a nose for a good grift. ''I can feel when a hustle's going down, even if I don't know exactly what it is,'' says Tony, who tests his instinct against his database of some 5,000 known hustlers and comes up with the profile of a dead man. (So much for science.) Although it's slightly maddening to watch Tony conducting off-the-premises research when he could be walking us through some of the other swindles going down on the casino floor, Swain knows how to misdirect the eye during the deal. -- Marilyn Stasio
“The momentum is great, the writing nimble, the action intricate.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Swain has hit on a winning combination.” – Washington Post Book World
“Mixing humor, suspense, poignancy and insider-lore, Swain is one terrific writer. A thoroughly winning book.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Ingenious entertainment.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Swain’s mysteries are a sure bet.” – The Chicago Tribune
"This series has got to be one of the finds of the decade.” -- Kirkus Reviews