Murder in Vegas: New Crime Tales of Gambling and Desperation

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Las Vegas. Lost Wages. Sin City. An artificial oasis of pleasure, spectacle, and entertainment, the gambling capital of America has reinvented itself so many times that its doubtful that anyone knows for sure what's real and what isn't in the miles of neon and scorching heat. Las Vegas is considered the ultimate players destination-no matter what your game. Almost anything is available-for a price, mind you, and sometimes losers walk away from the tables with even less than just...

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Murder in Vegas: New Crime Tales of Gambling and Desperation

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Las Vegas. Lost Wages. Sin City. An artificial oasis of pleasure, spectacle, and entertainment, the gambling capital of America has reinvented itself so many times that its doubtful that anyone knows for sure what's real and what isn't in the miles of neon and scorching heat. Las Vegas is considered the ultimate players destination-no matter what your game. Almost anything is available-for a price, mind you, and sometimes losers walk away from the tables with even less than just an empty wallet or purse-sometimes they don't walk away at all.

Now the International Association of Crime Writers and New York Times-bestselling author Michael Connelly have gathered twenty-two crime and mystery stories about the ultimate playground, Las Vegas, and what can happen behind the glitz and glamour. From a gambler who must-must-win at the roulette table to stay alive to a courier who's only mistake was accepting a package with Las Vegas as the final destination, come to the true city that never sleeps, where fortunes are made and lost every day, and where snake-eyes aren't found just on a pair of dice.

Featuring stories by:James Swain, S.J. Rozan, Wendy Hornsby, Michael Collins, T.P Keating, J. Madison Davis, Sue Pike, Joan Richter, Libby Hellmann, Tom Savage, Edward Wellen, K.j.a. Wishnia, Linda Kerslake, John Wessel, Lise McClendon, Ronnie Klaskin, Ruth Cavin, A.B. Robbins , Gay Toltl Kinman, Micki Marz, Rick Mofina, Jeremiah Healy

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This series can be counted on to showcase the best of mainstream crime fiction."---Booklist on The Best American Mystery Stories 2003, edited by Michael Connelly and Otto Penzler

"The Narrows, Michael Connelly's best crime novel since City of Bones, unfolds within his increasingly seductive world. ... The Narrows is so enveloping that it may send readers back to the early lives of these characters. "
The New York Times

"Mr. Connelly's terrific 14th novel...a suspenseful book marked by flashes of insight and moments of pathos, as well as by dry wit and graceful prose." — Wall Street Journal on The Narrows

"This is scarifying in a big way—a Thomas Harris kind of scary, which is high praise indeed."
— Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly on The Narrows

"Connelly is a master and this novel is yet another of his masterpieces."---Publishers Weekly
on The Narrows

Kirkus Reviews
An undistinguished collection of 22 new stories by members of the International Association of Crime Writers. Editor Connelly could have improved the volume by including a tale of his own to supplement his two-page introduction, but he may have been at a loss for words. As matters stand, James Swain's wry "The Sunshine Tax," S.J. Rozan's dour "Passline" and Wendy Hornsby's ironic "Dust Up," the three leadoff batters, are the best of the bunch. Matters go steadily downhill thereafter. Every Vegas cliche is covered, from the gaudy showgirl (T.P. Keating) to the Elvis impersonator (Linda Kerslake) to a pair of Siberian tigers (Gay Toltl Kinman). Obligatory figures include a drug courier (Jeremiah Healy), an Indian casino accountant (Lise McClendon), a tour guide (John Wessel), an actor (Micki Marz), a magician (A.B. Robbins), an obsessed fan (Sue Pike), a stripper (K.J.A. Wishnia) and two assassins (Tom Savage). There's an armored car heist (Rick Mofina), a kidnapped kid (Ronnie Klaskin), a missing Asian (Michael Collins), buried drugs (Libby Fischer Hellmann), a gambling junket (Joan Richie), a little S&M (J. Madison Davis), a trip to a nearby ghost town (Edward Weller) and a stroll down memory lane with the K.K.K. (Ruth Cavin). The most recycled motifs include the Bellagio and the Mirage, slots and craps, and dreams gone bust. And Red Rock Canyon becomes a repository for far too many corpses and plot twists. Anyone for Atlantic City?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765307408
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 788,994
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Connelly is the author of the bestselling Harry Bosch novels, including A Darkness More Than Night,City of Bones and Lost Light; and the bestselling novels The Poet, Chasing the Dime, Blood Work and Void Moon. He lives in Florida.


Best known for his dark police procedurals featuring the tough, complex and emotionally scarred LAPD detective, Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, Michael Connelly has been called "infernally ingenious" (The New York Times), "one of those masters...who can keep driving the story forward in runaway locomotive style" (USA Today) and "the top rank of a new generation of crime writers" (The Los Angeles Times).

Consistently exquisite prose and engrossing storylines play an integral role in his swelling success. However, Connelly believes that solid character development is the most important key. As he explained to, "I think books with weak or translucent plots can survive if the character being drawn along the path is rich, interesting and multi-faceted. The opposite is not true."

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Connelly attended the University of Florida; there he discovered the works of Raymond Chandler -- author of many classic Los Angeles-based noir dramas such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely. The cases of Philip Marlowe inspired Connelly to be a crime novelist -- and by studying journalism, he put himself in the perfect position. "I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about -- police and criminals, the criminal justice system," he told

After graduation, Connelly worked the crime beat for two Florida newspapers. When a story he and a colleague wrote about the disastrous 1985 crash of Delta Flight 191 was short-listed for the Pulitzer, Connelly landed a gig in Marlowe's backyard, covering crime for one of the nation's largest newspapers -- The Los Angeles Times. Three years later, Harry Bosch was introduced in The Black Echo, which earned Connelly the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Connelly has since won every major mystery honor, including the Anthony (The Poet, Blood Work) and the Macavity Award (Blood Work).

While Connelly has written stand-alone novels that don't feature his tragic protagonist Harry Bosch, he is best identified by his rigid, contentious and fiery -- but also immensely skilled and compassionate -- detective. According to The Boston Globe, the Bosch series "raises the hard-boiled detective novel to a new level...adding substance and depth to modern crime fiction."

Called "one of the most compelling, complex protagonists in recent crime fiction" (Newsweek) and "a terrific...wonderful, old-fashioned hero who isn't afraid to walk through the flames -- and suffer the pain for the rest of us" (The New York Times Book Review), Bosch faces unforgettable horrors every day -- either on the street or in his own mind. "Bosch is making up for wrongs done to him when he rights wrongs as a homicide detective," Connelly explained in an interview with his publisher. "In a way, he is an avenging angel."

Bosch is clearly a product of his deadly, unforgiving environment. "The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that when you look into the darkness of the abyss the abyss looks into you. Probably no other line or thought more inspires or informs my work," said Connelly in the same interview. With each passing novel, Bosch looks deeper and deeper into the abyss; and readers continue to return to see just how far he will gaze.

Good To Know

  • Michael Connelly received a huge career boost in 1994 when then President Bill Clinton was photographed walking out of a Washington bookstore with a copy of The Concrete Blonde under his arm. Connelly remarked to USA Today, "In the six years I've been writing books, that is the biggest thrill I've had."

  • Real events have always inspired Connelly's plots. His novel Blood Work was inspired by a friend who underwent transplant surgery and was coping with survivor's guilt, knowing someone had died in order for him to live. The book was later developed into a feature film starring Clint Eastwood, Angelica Huston, and Jeff Daniels.

  • One of Connelly's writing professors at the University of Florida was cult novelist Harry Crews.

  • Connelly named his most famous character after the 15th Century Dutch painter, Hieronymous Bosch. As he told Bookends UK in an interview, Bosch "created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and violence and human defilement. There is a ‘world gone mad' feel to many of his works, including one called ‘Hell' -- of which a print hangs on the wall over the computer where I write." Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Connelly:

    "I wrote a mystery story as a class paper in high school. It was called The Perfect Murder. The protagonist's named was McEvoy, a name I later used for the protagonist in The Poet. Being a witness to a crime when I was 16 was what made me interested in crime novels and mystery stories."

    "I wrote my first real murder story as a journalist for the Daytona Beach News Journal in 1980. It was about a body found in the woods. Later, the murder was linked to a serial killer who was later caught and executed for his crimes."

    "Everything I want people to know about me is in my books."

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      1. Hometown:
        Sarasota, Florida
      1. Date of Birth:
        July 21, 1956
      2. Place of Birth:
        Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
      1. Education:
        B.A. in Journalism, University of Florida, 1980
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt



    “Welcome to Nevada,” the convenience store manager said.

    The manager’s name was Huey Dollop. He was fifty, and he had tobacco-stained teeth and a head shaped like a honeydew. His store was the first thing motorists driving from California to Las Vegas saw when they crossed the state border on 1-15. A concrete pillbox sitting off the highway with a neon Budweiser sign in the window.

    The couple who came into Huey’s store looked beat. Two tired kids driving a Volvo they’d stopped making fifteen years ago. The girl had red hair, and eyes that said she’d seen a lot. The guy, maybe the same age, wore a Dodgers cap and was built like a stump. He made a bee-line for the cold beverages, leaving the girl at the counter.

    “Good afternoon,” Huey said. “What can I do for you today?”

    Huey said his lines with a smile on his face. It was the way he addressed every customer that came into his store. It always put them at ease.

    “This is our first time visiting Las Vegas,” she said, nodding at her boyfriend in the back of the store. “Troy won a chunk of change on the lottery, and figured maybe it was time to give lady luck a spin.”

    Huey nodded. He’d been running his store twenty years, and had heard a lot of stories. Most were hard luck. This one wasn’t, only the girl seemed afraid, like she sensed that they were about to get taken. A pair of virgins in Sin City.

    “Ever gambled before?” Huey asked.

    She nodded. Then said, “We taught ourselves on the Internet. It was fun. But …” Her voice trailed off, and she lowered her eyes and stared at the faded counter top.

    Huey picked up an open can of Dr. Pepper, and took a sip. They made it with prune juice, gave it a unique flavor. He said, “But?”

    “We weren’t playing with real money.” She lowered her voice. “Troy’s afraid of getting cheated in a real casino. You know, like once he starts to win.”

    “Casinos don’t have to cheat,” Huey said.

    “Hey, Amy, what you want to drink?”

    “Yoo-Hoo,” the girl replied. To Huey she said, “What do you mean?”

    “The house has an edge in every game. That’s how they pay their bills.”

    “An edge? Like a percentage?”

    “That’s right. Locals call it the sunshine tax.”

    “But do people ever win?”

    “Sure,” Huey said. “People win all the time.”

    Amy leaned her thin frame against the counter. “People like Troy?”

    “People just like Troy. Last week, a man came in who’d won a million dollars on a slot machine at the Bellagio, looked just like Troy.”

    “The what?”

    “The Bellagio. It’s a casino on the Strip. It’s got the fountains in the front.”

    “Did he tell you which machine?”

    Huey smiled, and took another sip of his soda. Troy came to the front. He placed two drinks and some food on the counter. He wore a faded tee shirt with the words I’M BLIND, I’M DEAF, I WANT TO BE A REF!

    Amy said, “This man says the games aren’t rigged.”

    “I told you that last night,” Troy said, taking his wallet out. Throwing a twenty down, he said, “We just need to know which casinos to play. They all don’t have the same rules. Guys at the shop told me that.”

    Amy looked at Huey. “That true? Are some places better?”

    Huey rang up the items. “Several casinos have liberal rules for blackjack, and looser slot machines. They’re definitely better places to gamble.”

    “Which ones?” Troy asked.

    Huey lifted his eyes and met the big man’s gaze. “The Riviera, the Sahara, the Stardust, and all the casinos in old downtown, like the Nugget and the Horseshoe.”

    “What are loose slot machines?” the girl asked.

    Huey tore the receipt from the register’s printer, and handed it to Troy along with his change. “The management sets them to pay out better. Sometimes they have signs outside that say ninety-eight percent payoff on slots. Go to those places.”

    “What’s the payout like at the other casinos?” Amy said.

    “About ninety-four to ninety-five percent,” Huey said.

    “That much less? That’s cheating.”

    Huey said, “That’s the sunshine tax.”

    Troy put his change into his pocket, and handed Amy the receipt. Then he scooped his things off the counter. Huey saw the girl’s eyes wander, and said, “I’ll tell you one other little secret about the slot machines.”

    She looked up at him expectantly.

    “The looser machines are usually near the doors, or places where people congregate inside the casino,” Huey said. “The management does that to create excitement, and entice other people to play. Play those machines.”

    “Near the doors,” the girl said.

    “That’s right.”

    “Thanks,” she said under her breath.

    The couple started to leave. Huey said, “One more thing,” and they came back to the counter. “This is really important,” he said. “Always bet the maximum number of coins the machine will take. That’s the only way you can win the jackpot.”

    Troy looked at the girl. “You remembering all this?”

    Amy recited the names of the casinos, and the pearls about the slots, saying it like it was the most important thing she’d ever been told.

    “Much obliged,” Troy said.

    “Good luck,” Huey replied.

    Through the curly-cues of the Budweiser sign, Huey watched the couple get into their old Volvo. The car started up, and went about twenty feet. Then it stopped, and the girl got out, and marched into the store.

    “Forget something?” Huey asked as she approached the counter.

    She was holding the receipt, and pointing at it.

    “What’s this?” she asked.

    Huey stared at a charge for $.75. He scratched his chin. His eyes drifted to the Three Musketeers bar on the counter, next to the cigarette lighters. Picking it up, he said, “Your boyfriend didn’t take his candy bar.”

    She shook her head. “Troy don’t eat no candy.”

    “My mistake.”

    Huey put the candy bar on the shelf behind him. Then he hit the NO SALE button on the register. The cash drawer popped open, and he fished out three quarters, and laid them onto her palm. She left the store without saying a word.

    The Volvo left a cloud of dirt in the parking lot. When it settled, another car had taken its place. Four young women piled out. In the back of the car, Huey saw pillows, and guessed the women were planning to share a room.

    He took the candy bar off the shelf, and placed it back on the counter on the spot it had occupied since he’d opened his store. The women came in, and he smiled at them.

    “Welcome to Nevada,” he said.

    Copyright © 2005 by the International Association of Crime Writers

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    Table of Contents

    Introduction : 10,000 eyes in the sky 11
    The sunshine tax 15
    Passline 19
    Dust up 31
    The kidnapping of Xiang Fei 45
    Killer heels kill twice as dead 63
    Iggy's stuff 75
    A temporary crown 87
    The gambling master of Shanghai 97
    House rules 111
    Rolling the bones 125
    Oddsmaker 141
    The dope show 161
    Death of a whale in the church of Elvis 177
    Neighbors 195
    The end of the world (as we know it) 213
    Nickels and dimes 227
    Even gamblers have to eat 243
    The magic touch 253
    Catnapping 273
    Miscast 285
    Lightning rider 303
    Grieving Las Vegas 321
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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 2.5
    ( 12 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted March 28, 2012

      Very disappointed in this book. I thought it was a M ichael Conn

      Very disappointed in this book. I thought it was a M ichael Connelly book but turned out to be different authors with short stories. Regret paying for this book.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 17, 2005

      A Huge disappointment

      The cover looks inviting, perhaps I should have read more about it. Thank goodness I did not BUY it but borrowed it from the local library. Only the intro is by Connelly- none of his work is included. What a disapointment.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 6, 2005

      not worthwhile

      I was very disappointed with this book, a bunch of short stories that were not very exciting.. I cannot recommend this as enjoyable reading material...

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 9, 2005

      Smoke on the Water

      In the dark world of crime fiction, there's a clear distinction between authors that are smokin' guns versus those pretenders who merely blow smoke. In this crime compilation, British phenomenon T.P. Keating establishes his peerless talent as he blows us all away with ¿Killer Heels Kill Twice As Dead¿ - a magnum round of plot twists, cunning and delicious darkness of the highest caliber. Word-slinging wannabes take note: read and learn from this master marksman. With all that smokey noir blowing across the pond from England, when are we going to see a complete volume of Keating's work?

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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      Posted February 19, 2013

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      Posted June 14, 2010

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      Posted February 24, 2012

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      Posted January 27, 2012

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      Posted July 20, 2011

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      Posted June 13, 2011

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      Posted April 16, 2012

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      Posted September 11, 2011

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