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Book Review: The Picasso Flop

Reviewed By: Luke Croll - RAM

[3 stars]

The Picasso Flop     Amazon US HC Amazon Canada HC
Robert J. Randisi , Vince Van Patten
Class/Genre:   Mystery   Amateur Sleuth
Series: Texas Hold'em Mysteries # 1
Mysterious Press, February 2007 292 pages 24.99USD

Jimmy Spain was a successful professional poker player, but he ended up in prison. On his release, he is made an offer he cannot refuse. The only drawback to it is that he has to coach a kid – and not just any kid, but a girl! – on the professional poker tour. Spain is hardly over the moon, but when he sees that Kat has talent, things start to look up. However, the tournament is soon thrown into confusion when a murder takes place at the Bellagio, the Las Vegas casino where the tournament is taking place. Spain is asked to investigate, but what with playing the tournament, looking after Kat and other issues, has he bitten off more than he can chew?

I am always worried when a book has the word ‘flop’ in its title, as it could well be seen as a premonition. Here, however, the title relates to the poker world so well known to its authors. Vince Van Patten is one of the commentators for the Travel Channel programme ‘World Poker Tour’ and there is a lot of poker name-dropping, with real life figures such as James Woods and Mike Sexton playing roles. The authors assemble an interesting cast of characters, some of whom are much larger than life, but given that the tournament is taking place in the weirdness that is Las Vegas, anything goes! Jimmy Spain and Kat are both good characters and I feel that Spain probably has more stories to tell.

I thought that the novel was rather light on the mystery and thriller side. Yes, there were murders and police investigations, but I thought that the focus was much more on the poker side of things. Clearly, this novel will appeal to poker fans but for those who do not know a great deal about it, it is less accessible. The novel moves at a decent pace and does not require a great deal of concentration. Definitely one for poker lovers and very suitable for reading by the swimming pool during the summer.

Luke Croll - RAM

Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Luke Croll - RAM

Luke Croll - Conference interpreter and translator

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