Cold Deck

Cold Deck

by H. Lee Barnes
     
 

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Jude is a Las Vegas casino dealer who barely survived the deadly MGM fire in 1980. More than two decades later, he’s still dealing, a tired, middle-aged man, divorced, struggling with debt, and trying to be a good father to his children. Then he loses his job and his car is totaled in an accident. When an attractive woman friend offers to help him get another

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Overview

Jude is a Las Vegas casino dealer who barely survived the deadly MGM fire in 1980. More than two decades later, he’s still dealing, a tired, middle-aged man, divorced, struggling with debt, and trying to be a good father to his children. Then he loses his job and his car is totaled in an accident. When an attractive woman friend offers to help him get another job, Jude is happy to go along. Gradually, he realizes that his new job is part of an elaborate scheme to cheat a casino and that his own fate and that of his children depend on his finding the courage and ingenuity to extricate himself.

Cold Deck is the exciting story of an ordinary man who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. Moving from Las Vegas’s mean streets to the insider’s world of casino workers, this is a story of survival set against the greed, fears, and glitz of Sin City.  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Las Vegas, this low-key crime novel from Barnes (The Lucky) is about a basically decent man who tries to grab the brass ring before it's too late. Veteran blackjack dealer Jude Helms has survived the disastrous MGM fire in 1980, a firing in 1984, a doomed marriage, a firing disguised as a layoff at the Monaco casino, and a car accident. After yet another job loss, Helms allows himself to get sucked into a lucrative but illegal gambling scheme. Through his teenage daughter, Beth, Helms meets Audra Moser, the attractive mother of one of Beth's school friends. Audra, who may have served prison time, introduces Helms to Ben Goldman, who tests his dealer skills and begins grooming him for a scam. As Helms gets in deeper, he struggles to find a way to extricate himself, but finds his path blocked by his own guilt and vulnerability. Barnes, who obviously knows the ins and outs of casino gambling routines, puts them to good use as Helms makes a last desperate attempt to break free.
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From the Publisher

Cold Deck, H. Lee Barnes’ novel driven by a savvy even hell-bent narrator, immediately draws you into the underworld of Las Vegas gambling and won’t let you go until the treachery and intrigue run flat out.” —Darrell Spencer, author of One Mile Past Dangerous Curve  

“The world of the Vegas casinos—particularly the less glitzy side—creates a wonderful palette for the novel, and Barnes stamps almost every page of the book with the feel of it. The author, unlike his likeably unlucky main character, is holding a winning hand here.” —Keith Lee Morris, author of The Greyhound God and The Dart League King  

Kirkus Reviews
A Vegas novel, so naturally, it concerns scamming the casinos. Jude Helms is out of his element in Las Vegas, for he's that seeming rarity: an honest dealer. But he's run into a string of bad luck, having been fired without cause from several casinos. (Well, perhaps not totally without cause. Once, he complimented a customer for her largesse, which was misconstrued as "large ass.") Now, it's 20 years later, and although his marriage has fallen apart, he's close to his children, 14-year-old Beth and recent college graduate Lucas. All Jude really wants is enough money to start his own masonry company, but until that time, he's committed--or condemned--to work the tables. Finally he seems to get a break when Audie, the mother of one of Beth's friends, introduces him to Ben, who's impressed by Jude's skill in dealing cards. Ben works with him and with Angel, a slick con, to perfect Jude's technique in checking and changing cards without being seen. In a hierarchy of corruption, Ben seems to be working for the mysterious Wade, an ex-con definitely not to be messed with. When Jude feels he's had enough, Ben informs him that he's now "in" and can't escape the $2 million scam that's planned involving a "cold deck," in which a deck of cards with predictable patterns is substituted for one of the casino decks in the shoe. Jude does everything he can to extricate himself from his morally compromising situation and to protect his children, something made far more difficult when he discovers that Audie, with whom he's developed a sexual relationship, is perhaps the mastermind behind the whole scheme--and is also married to the ever-menacing Wade. Barnes' novel will be of particular interest to those familiar with slots, blackjack and the seamy side of casinos.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780874178845
Publisher:
University of Nevada Press
Publication date:
03/15/2013
Series:
WEST WORD FICTION Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

H. Lee Barnes is a former Green Beret and Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a deputy sheriff, private investigator, and casino dealer. He currently teaches English and creative writing at the Community College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. He is the author of three short story collections, another novel, a memoir, and a nonfiction book about casino workers. His short fiction has received the Willamette Fiction Award and the Arizona Authors Association Fiction Award, and in 2009, he was elected to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. 

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