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 My latest book, Vegas and the Chicago Outfit , took a little longer to finish researching than I had hoped. Instead of a year to research, write, and edit, my plan for October 2020 somehow went south. That's my way of saying I'm two years late getting my most detailed compilation of the rise of the Chicago Outfit and their inexhaustible takeover of every money-making casino in Las Vegas down in book form. If that description sounds exaggerated, it's not. The Chicago Outfit came to the party in Las Vegas a bit later than the New York families. Still, by the late 1940s, the Windy City group had firm control of a half-dozen casinos from the Flamingo to the El Rancho, Thunderbird, and others.  By the 1960s, they had skimming operations in the Sands, Dunes, Aladdin, Riviera, Mint, Fremont, Stardust, Desert Inn, and of course, Caesars Palace. The Chicago Outfit simply took the reins and shook harder than any other families, even with Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Kansas City
Recent posts

Review of "The Grifter" by Ali Gunn

I've heard the saying that revenge is a dish best served cold, meaning it has more impact if it's well past the harm done. Well, sometimes Karma doesn't work fast enough to suit us, and that's the setup to The Grifter,  a novel by Ali Gunn and Sean Campbell. Gunn most recently released The Career Killer , Campbell has a dozen books available. All are based in the UK and revolve around police detectives and, well, psychopaths. Hank Marvin, our story's protagonist, is bent on revenge. So much so that he watches the younger and seriously more successful (soon to be a billionaire fund manager) Kent Bancroft every day from across the street, bundled in a sleeping bag, or standing on his one leg, leaning up against a tiny stoop. When the two interact early in the novel I'm reminded slightly of the discussion of a major player on Wall Street and a homeless wretch on the street in Bonfire of the Vanities . There's a flavor there, the language, and definitely the bri

Review of "The Deeper Dark" by Michael Allen

  Michael Allen's The Deeper Dark is a military-political thriller with a haunting forecast of what could happen when our political system controls just a tiny bit more of our lives than it already does. Our story starts with a pilot's worst nightmare: being forced down over enemy lines. Then, like John McCain and other real-life wartime pilots, his nightmare comes into even scarier focus as he is met immediately by the opposition forces who are armed and most certainly dangerous. In Deeper , pilot Haven Kayd is taken to a dank and soon to be dark cell that has housed many other prisoners. The fact that he's the only one there is less than comforting. For months Kayd fights away the psychological fears his captors impose on him and manages to escape, only to find that his nightmare continues when he returns home to find his wife and daughter shocked to see him. They've been told he's dead. The message finally dawns on him: Fear the Deep State. Kayd asks questions a

John Grisham's "The Guardians"

  If you've been waiting for John Grisham to deliver another solid book, the 2019 issuance of The Guardians is probably your best bet. Grisham, of course, has made a habit of taking small-time or at least small-town lawyer story's to breakneck-speed endings while spinning a vast (if not luxurious) web of possible plots across a reader's mind. I'm a fan, but there have been a few stumbles in my opinion, such as The Whistler , and Camino Winds , that move slowly and lack the thrill of the chase I found in earlier books. Fortunately, Grisham's on the ball with this book, and I was happy to get trapped for hours inside the covers of my bed and the book itself. In this "wrongful conviction" story, lawyer Cullen Post takes a series of cases as far as he can, saying "I have five cases...., I've watched one of my clients die. I still think he was innocent. I just couldn't prove it in time." Such is the pressure and turmoil of a pro-bono lawyer a

Review of "The Career Killer" by Ali Gunn

Author Ali Gunn brings us the first in her DCI Mabey series, with The Career Killer , a smart detective-mystery novel. Set in London, the main character works at London Yard, where her father wrote many of the training manuals. She may be her father's daughter, but her fellow detective would have preferred her father's son to be the heir apparent to his legacy. Newly-minted Detective Chief Inspector Elsie Maybe takes her new promotion in stride until she inherits a wonky tribe of underlings and a murder at an old church. She's not fast to gather clues, not because she's moving at half-speed due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but because the nature of the new string of murders has some ring of normalcy or familiarity to her, starting with a young woman in a wedding dress found in the ruins of an ancient London church. She doesn't move like Columbo or Hercule Poirot, asking questions and sifting the carnage over in her mind. Instead, she seems to plot the next

Celeste Ng and "Little Fires Everywhere"

Celeste Ng grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and plots her story, Little Fires Everywhere in the same town. In between Shaker Heights and her story, Ng attended Harvard University and earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan. While we are talking about her writing chops, this latest book is also a Hulu original series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. As for the book, it’s available on Kindle, in paperback, and on Audible. And, you might want to take a look because the story Celeste Ng draws us into is powerful and complicated. The story starts with the nearly idyllic setting of Shaker Heights and Elena Richardson, who we think might be close to a Stepford Wife. Ng sets a somewhat long and winding road, giving us new hints and grudgingly providing backstory only as it’s needed to justify Elena’s latest movements across town while renting her and her husband’s starter home to a single woman, Mia Warren, and her daughter Pearl.

Review of "Perfect Anastasia" by Jack Binding

In Jack Binding's latest horror story, Perfect Anastasia , twenty-something Andy Moretti asks himself a question that a million other men are currently asking themselves. "Why can't I find a nice woman to spend my time with?" Well, be careful what you ask for! As if Andy's questions have been miraculously answered by a benevolent Genie, he meets the perfect woman at a party. She's funny, she's beautiful, and she's actually interested in talking to him. That should be a good sign, right? Author Binding uses the need for companionship as a crutch in short story. The need, the hope, the sweet nectar of promise and desire. Binding's written words are straightforward and to the point, leaving the reader with little doubt as to where the story is headed, but the outcome, while not necessarily anticipated, is every young person's nightmare and much more. The writing reminds me a bit of clive Barker as he starts a story you think you kn