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Grift Sense (Tony Valentine Novels): James Swain

Grift Sense (Tony Valentine Novels)

James Swain

Published by Pocket Books, 2001
ISBN 10: 0743406222 / ISBN 13: 9780743406222
Used / Hardcover / Quantity Available: 1
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: Grift Sense (Tony Valentine Novels)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Collectible: Like New

Dust Jacket Condition: Like New

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.


Signed by author on title page without inscription. Dated June 21, 2001. Fist edition with full number line. Top corner slightly bent. Bookseller Inventory # unit81-25

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Synopsis: grift sense "n" 1: the instinct for spotting a scam
2: the knack for hustling a hustler 3: the ability to out-con a con
4: what Tony Valentine has in spades

Meet Tony Valentine -- former cop, lifelong misanthrope, and sixtysomething freelance grifter-hunter. He's also something of a legend -- and not just among the retirees of Palm Harbor, Florida. There isn't a pit boss from the boardwalk of Atlantic City to Las Vegas' main drag who hasn't called on Valentine to dump the grifters out with the trash. He has never thought twice about seeing every one of them rot in jail. So much for his sentimental side.

Then along comes his new job. Her name is Nola Briggs, a honey-blond blackjack dealer from Las Vegas who's behind bars without a prayer in the world. Unless you count Valentine -- and even "he" wouldn't bet on her innocence.

Likewise Nick Nicocropolis, the owner of the Acropolis Casino & Resort. He's got Nola on camera playing crooked blackjack to a shark named Frank Fontaine. Now Frank has disappeared, leaving his alleged accomplice to take the heat. All Valentine's got to play with is Nola. She isn't saying a word. Valentine's plan: post a reasonable bail, turn her loose, and see how -- and where -- she runs.

Shadowing a woman like Nola leads Valentine into a lethal world of greedy hustlers, bloodthirsty hit men, corrupt police, and a Las Vegas underworld that's taking him down with it. He counted on that; what he didn't count on is just how innocent Nola appears to be when her past starts showing. Or how many people want her out of the picture. Unfortunately neither Nola nor Valentine knows why. And it's going to be tough as hell for them to survive anenemy's vendetta when they don't know who their enemies are -- or where they're hiding.

With its bullet-fast pace, triple-crossing plot twists, diamond-hard prose, winning characters, and neon-soaked setting, Grift sense marks the ascendancy of an author with a "been-there, done-that" attitude -- and a talent for the literary sucker punch in the tradition of Laurence Shames and Elmore Leonard.

Review: Penzler Pick, July 2001: The first four pages of this casino-themed debut are smashing--literally. Then James Swain, himself a gambling expert and professional magician, gets to the real story, and at that point, the plot starts churning out more twists than a corkscrew factory on overtime. Soon the characters are so enmeshed in their own self-serving lies, scams, and schemes that the only thing for a reader to do is just take a deep breath and let the steady barrage of surprises wash over him.

There's no point in saying "take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery," because in Swain's Las Vegas, what one gazes upon is most likely to be a casino's gambling floor as viewed from security monitors. "Watching surveillance videos," he explains, "is a unique experience. The cameras filtered twice as much light as the human eye, and as a result hairpieces looked like rugs, cheap suits took on zebra stripes, and women wearing red dresses became naked. It was like entering the Twilight Zone."

All too familiar with this eerie, totally paranoid, 24/7 universe is one-time Atlantic City cop Tony Valentine, who now runs a one-man consulting business he calls Grift Sense. To say of someone that he has that particular form of larcenous intuition, the author tells us, is "the highest compliment" one hustler can pay another. Grift sense means "that you not only knew how to do the moves, you also knew when to do them."

And even if Valentine is 62 and settled in Florida, away from the action, he's never lost his ability to "feel when a hustle's going down, even if (he doesn't) know exactly what it is." That's why the Acropolis Resort & Casino is determined to lure him West to check out what looks like funny business going on between blond blackjack dealer Nola Briggs and a player named Frank Fontaine, who happens to be winning a little too steadily. Swain's easy expertise with the world of gaming and gamblers makes Grift Sense into a fascinating guidebook, as well as a vivid debut in a series that so far has a flavor all its own. --Otto Penzler

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