Mr. Lucky – by James Swain

Reviewed by Jim Coleman
Company driver, Averitt

Listening Time: 5 hours on 4 CDs
Publisher: Random House Audio
Retail: $27.50
Genre: Mystery

Plot: Ricky Smith, a loud-mouthed, balding, self-professed geek, jumps from the fifth floor of a burning Las Vegas hotel, lives to tell about it, then proceeds to tear up the Strip on an incredible winning streak.

Tony Valentine, a retired Atlantic City cop, is hired by a very suspicious casino to see if Ricky Smith is the luckiest man on earth or one of the slickest cheaters to find Vegas.

When Tony gets to Ricky’s hometown of Slippery Rock, N.C., he finds that Ricky has won everything from a Hawaiian vacation to a $50,000 lottery since he returned home. Tony is forced to blow his own cover during a shootout at a holdup he walked in on – that’s when things heat up. Ricky’s lifelong local friends and business associates from New York and Miami all turn against Tony to keep him from discovering a deep, dark secret.

What was your favorite moment? After a shootout, Jerry Valentine (Tony’s adult son) is riding in the ambulance with a character who was wounded. The wounded guy says to Jerry, “You should have killed him when you had the chance.” Jerry asks the wounded man, “Have you ever killed anyone?” The guy says, “No,” and Jerry says, “Then shut up.”

Which character was your favorite? My favorite character was Jerry Valentine. He is put in situations where he is tempted. As human nature goes, he gives in to temptation and later regrets it. He wants to make his way through life as best he can but doesn’t want to hurt anyone in the process.

Did the audiobook have a message or theme? That some people are dishonest enough to repeatedly scam others. But if they scam people enough, they will get caught. It also seems to say that the ill-gotten gains are more of a curse than a blessing.

What did you like or dislike? The book was well written, the plot was good, and it took enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The subject of investigating people who cheat casinos was intriguing, and though it tells of a few ways that casinos are cheated, it is not a “how to” book.

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One of the things I didn’t like about the book is that there are a few expletory phrases that were repeated over and over. It is commonly done by authors who are trying to meet a deadline. They find a phrase they’re fond of and use it more than once in the same book, turning their “pet phrase” into an irritant to the reader (or, in this case, listener).

Would you recommend?: Yes, it is an interesting subject, and as the plot unfolds you find yourself trying to figure out not only “who done it” but how.

Narrator’s style: Tony Roberts is a renowned Broadway, film and television actor. He has a reflective voice that transcends well from character to character. He is, however, obviously from the North and needs to work more on a Southern accent.
How would you grade the book? B

The Cormac McCarthy Collection – by Cormac McCarthy
All three volumes of award-winning Western writer Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy are included here. In All the Pretty Horses, young John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers, sets off with two companions for an adventure in Mexico. In The Crossing, 16-year-old Billy Parham finds a she-wolf and decides to take her back to the mountains of Mexico. Cole and Parham both appear in Cities of the Plain, when they both work as ranch hands in New Mexico. Actor Brad Pitt reads.
8 hours on 7 CDs
Retail: $34.95
Random House Audio

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