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Mr. Lucky (Tony Valentine Series #5)

Mr. Lucky (Tony Valentine Series #5)

4.2 13
by James Swain

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Tony Valentine made his living and his name as a cop in Atlantic City–and is now known worldwide for his ability to spot the kinds of scams, grifts, and rip-offs that cost casinos billions every year. A man with a biting wit who drives a ’92 Honda, Tony is low-profile, old-school, and has seen it all–until he meets the luckiest man on


Tony Valentine made his living and his name as a cop in Atlantic City–and is now known worldwide for his ability to spot the kinds of scams, grifts, and rip-offs that cost casinos billions every year. A man with a biting wit who drives a ’92 Honda, Tony is low-profile, old-school, and has seen it all–until he meets the luckiest man on earth.

Ricky Smith was once a small-town loser. Then he went to Las Vegas, jumped out the window of a burning hotel, lived to tell the tale, and tore up the Strip on an incredible winning streak. Ricky didn’t just win at one slot machine or table game. He won at blackjack, roulette, and craps, and then beat the pants off the world’s greatest poker player. Tony knows that goofy, loudmouthed Ricky Smith–or anyone else, for that matter–couldn’t possibly be that fortunate. But when “Mr. Lucky” returns home to the little town of Slippery Rock, North Carolina, he keeps on winning everything from a horse race to a $50,000 lottery.

Hired by a desperate casino, Tony starts to pry into Ricky’s past, his friends, and the strange little town that is benefiting from Ricky’s fame and fortune. Unfortunately for Tony, his cover is blown when he is forced to reveal a trick he has up his own sleeve: a pocket Glock he can shoot with laser-like precision. Suddenly, two men are dead, the cops are on Tony’s tail, and the investigation explodes in violence–putting the lives of Tony’s son and his young family in danger.

For years, Tony’s son Gerry has dueled with his own criminal impulses. Now, the Ricky Smith case has lured Gerry through the gates of temptation and into a murderous confrontation with the Dixie Mafia. With Tony stuck on the slippery slope of Slippery Rock and Gerry fighting for his life, the Valentines are finding out just how bad good luck can get.

Against a neon-tinted backdrop of adrenaline rushes, hard crashes, big money, and high-wire tension, the inimitable James Swain has set his best Tony Valentine novel yet: a funny, furious ride with an astounding array of crooks, marks, and one killer scam.

Editorial Reviews

Paula L. Woods
Swain has hit on a winning combination in Mr. Lucky, creating not only considerable thrills but a rogue's gallery of likable characters, including Mabel Struck, Tony's colorful neighbor and assistant; Gerry, who is desperately trying to change his grifting ways; and Ricky Smith himself, who still earns our sympathy after we realize that he's a first-class jerk. And Swain's take on what lurks beneath the surface of an all-American small town gives the plot a few extra twists. But the vibrant heart of Mr. Lucky and the series is Tony Valentine, who can not only suss out casino scams but cares deeply about the people in his life and the lives he must occasionally take. He's the kind of man you wouldn't mind having on your side in a high-stakes poker game, let alone the game of life.
— The Washington Post
Los Angeles Times
An avalanche of breathless action.
St. Petersburg Times
Impossible to put down . . . endless fun . . . Sucker Bet is its own best payout.
The New York Times Book Review
Ingenious entertainment.
A sure bet . . . an involving plot that moves faster than a pair of dice and with a bigger payout than a game of blackjack.
Publishers Weekly
In the stunning opener, gambler Ricky Smith takes a swan dive from a burning balcony into a pool as the Riverboat Casino in Vegas goes up in flames. Smith gets up, walks across the street to the Mint and proceeds to win a cool million, never losing a hand. The odds say no one's that lucky. Tony Valentine, head of Grift Sense, a gambling consulting company, gets called in to find out exactly how Ricky cheated, so the casino doesn't have to pay. For his fifth outing (Sucker Bet, etc.), Swain presents his 63-year-old retired cop with his most involved mystery yet. Readers gain expected info on chip scams, while the plot goes delightfully over the top like Agatha Christie at her wildest, with gypsies, drug cartels and one piece of misdirection after another (not least that dive from the balcony). Occasional preachiness interrupts the action, as Tony explains how awful killing bad guys makes you feel-but he still keeps shooting them in the head. The narrative nails gambling cold, noting that televised poker has convinced millions they know how to play: "Professionals had a name for these new players. They called them suckers." Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After a miraculous escape from a casino fire, loser Ricky Smith starts up a major winning streak, and ex-cop Tony Valentine is called in by the desperate casino owners to prove that this "Mr. Lucky" is a cheat. With an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gambling expert Tony Valentine tackles the case of the small-town bettor who just can't lose. Minutes after miraculously escaping a casino fire, Ricky Smith walks across the street to the Mint and the mother of all lucky streaks. Borrowing 20 bucks from a retired bookkeeper, he pyramids it to $200,000 at blackjack, then scores equally incredible successes at roulette and craps before fleecing Tex "All In" Snyder, a world-class expert at Texas Hold 'Em. Ricky returns to Slippery Rock, North Carolina, a hero to the locals and a baffling puzzle to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which wants Tony to figure out how Ricky's been cheating. After his abortive attempt to help compulsive gambler Lucy Price (Loaded Dice, 2004), Tony doesn't want to play with these boys again, but he can't resist an offer of Vegas amnesty to his nogoodnik son Gerry, whose nice physician wife and baby daughter deserve better. Even so, Ricky's lucky streak not only defies Tony's best attempts to debunk it, but it just continues. He splits $50,000 with an old acquaintance on an instant-win lottery ticket, picks three horses at an OTB parlor, and narrowly escapes death twice with a little help from Tony. How can he be gaming every game in town, and what can Tony and a newly cooperative Gerry do to nail him?A wall-to-wall adrenaline rush as potent as a gambler's high. Tony's fifth is his biggest and just possibly his best. Author tour
From the Publisher

Mr. Lucky

Mr. Lucky hits the jackpot. Impossible to put down.”
-Michael Connelly

Loaded Dice

“A sure bet . . . an involving plot that moves faster than a pair of dice and with a bigger payout than a game of blackjack.”

“Swain builds tension through a series of beautifully calibrated lessons in fleecing casinos and hints of something bigger. . . . This smooth, funny series has got to be one of the finds of the decade.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Sucker Bet

“Ingenious entertainment.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Impossible to put down . . . endless fun . . . Sucker Bet is its own best payout.”
–St. Petersburg Times

“An avalanche of breathless action.”
–Los Angeles Times

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Tony Valentine Series , #5
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
486 KB

What People are Saying About This

Michael Connelly
Mr. Lucky hits the jackpot. Impossible to put down.

Meet the Author

JAMES SWAIN is the bestselling author of Grift Sense, Funny Money, Sucker Bet, and Loaded Dice, and is considered an authority on crooked gambling and casino scams. He lives in Odessa, Florida, with his wife, Laura, where he is currently at work on his sixth Tony Valentine novel.

Visit the author’s website at www.jimswain.com

From the Hardcover edition.

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Mr. Lucky (Tony Valentine Series #5) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Since the novel came out in 2005, and since it has been a year when the last review was written, why bother writing a review? Well, I will write it because that's what I do when I finish a book. Since someone may still come along and read the novel, I will put the The whole story is premised on one Ricky Smith winning a million dollars at a Vegas casino. He becomes known as Mr. Lucky because, before he did that, he had escaped a burning hotel by jumping from his balcony, through a roof, and into the hotel swimming pool. He survived, and ran wet and shoeless across the street where he won the million. An investigator, former cop Tony Valentine, is hired by the casino to prove that Ricky's win were by fraud. If in fact there was a scam set up in the casino, one wonders why. Ricky, for all we knew, was in his hotel room, prepared to spend the night with a woman. That it went sour was unpredictable. That the hotel would catch fire was unpredictable. That he would jump was unpredictable. That he would survive was unpredictable and astonishing. So why would a scam be set up for Ricky to win money if there was so little, in fact, no chance that he would even be at this casino? Yet he did turn up there, and the story of how Valentine investigates is the main part of the novel, along with a side story about his son conducting an unrelated investigation- filler, actually. The novel is not unpleasant, and in fact has some interesting developments. But, how the story ends was quite annoying. The author plays some cards he had been hiding through the whole novel. Not fair.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I found it very interesting. It ended kind of abruptly but overall I liked the story. --K--
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read my first James Swain book over the Christmas holidays. Since then, I have picked up 5 more and have read 4 of them. The main character - Tony Valentine - is well developed and I find my self laughing out loud at times when I am reading. Great series to read through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ricky Smith, a loser from a nowhere town in the North Carolina mountains, suddenly becomes the luckiest man on earth, winning everything he sets his mind to. But he isn't fooling everyone. Enter Tony Valentine, ageing ex-cop and gambling scam detection artist. Soon he and his son Gerry are up to their ears in the Dixie Mafia, revenge-driven backwoodsmen, and corruption at the highest levels of business. Set in Florida, Nevada, and the deep South, this tale of greed and grift holds the reader to the last exciting page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent, with a little suspension of disbelief. One glaring error: a man 'burns off' his fingerprints using Boric Acid? Boric is used in eyewashes and of you soaked your fingers in it all day you would only get wrinkled skin, same as water. OK, that's nitpicking. Still a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading an excellent book that I highly recommed to you. 'Mr. Lucky is an exciting, beautifully written novel. I particularly enjoyed all the insider information the author lets us in on about many types of gambling scams that crooks use. These tricks add spice to altogether satisfying and exciting story line. Tony Valentine is a totally believalbe, really engaging person. Another great book by James Swain
harstan More than 1 year ago
When a fire breaks out in the Riverboat Casino, small time gambler Ricky Smith jumps from his burning balcony into a pool. A few minutes later without a look back he enters the Mint. He borrows twenty bucks; Smith starts at blackjack, turns to roulette and dice before completing his incredible run by wiping out poker expert Tex Snyder. In a short period, Smith went from loser to millionaire never losing a hand at any of the games he played. --- The Vegas Nevada Gaming Control Board wants Tony Valentine, head of Grift Sense, to figure out how Smith accomplished this incredible run. Tony wants to refuse the assignment, but when the consortium adds the wiping out his wastrel son¿s debts, he agrees only for the sake of his daughter in-law and granddaughter. Smith is back in North Carolina, but the streak continues with a lottery win. Tony struggles to debunk MR. LUCKY as no pattern except the wins emerge.--- In his latest grift tale, James Swain provides a delightful wild gambling tale that also provides a cautionary waning to those hooked by the glitter of internet and televised poker. Tony is terrific as he cannot find how Smith can win at seemingly random events like a lottery. Wild and zany, MR. LUCKY is a terrific royal flush thriller.--- Harriet Klausner