The Ivory Coast

( 2 )

Overview

It is 1955 in Las Vegas, and the Chicago mob man Mo Weiner is bankrolling ex-boxer Worthless Worthington Lee and the city's first all-black hotel-casino. The Ivory Coast is rising up from the dust, on the wrong side of town. And out of the shadows steps Deacon, a white horn player with a dark past and a genius for jazz. Mo mistakes him for a hitman. Worthless takes him for a friend. Anita, the mixed-race beauty he falls for, wants him for herself. And Haney, the corrupt and racist cop who runs this hot desert ...

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The Ivory Coast: A Novel

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Overview

It is 1955 in Las Vegas, and the Chicago mob man Mo Weiner is bankrolling ex-boxer Worthless Worthington Lee and the city's first all-black hotel-casino. The Ivory Coast is rising up from the dust, on the wrong side of town. And out of the shadows steps Deacon, a white horn player with a dark past and a genius for jazz. Mo mistakes him for a hitman. Worthless takes him for a friend. Anita, the mixed-race beauty he falls for, wants him for herself. And Haney, the corrupt and racist cop who runs this hot desert oasis of sin and sand, wants him rubbed out.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What a great first novel! Charles Fleming has captured all the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas in the 1950s and brought it absolutely to life. The Ivory Coast is a terrific story from a talented storyteller." —Dominick Dunne

"Impressive...Amid all the hard-boiled James Ellroy-inspired drama what emerges here is a surprisingly sensitive story about the historic daringness and personal sacrifices that made integration possible. Yet Fleming never loses sight of the neon-lit sleaze of Las Vegas, making this sure-bet thriller as satisfyingly sordid as it is socially responsible." —Los Angeles Times

"Palpable...A kind of tenderness hovering behind the main players draws you in." —Houston Chronicle

"A promising fiction debut." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"This thoroughly engaging tale adroitly mixes an intriguing story with the history of the early days of the famed desert city." —The Poisoned Pen

Publishers Weekly
Something about the gaudy, vulgar, appalling milieu of Las Vegas seems to defeat filmmakers (except for the original Ocean's 11), and writers too, as this first novel by Fleming confirms. The sprawling narrative repels more than it fascinates, eventually falling victim to its own excesses. In 1955 Vegas, a talented white trumpeter named Deacon is asked by Mo "the Man" Weiner, owner of the Thunderbird casino, to do a hit job on a certain messenger from L.A. The messenger is carrying a suitcase containing something of vital importance to Thomas Haney, top cop on the Vegas strip, who'll do anything to get hold of it. Meanwhile, Worthless Worthington Jones, an ex-boxer, plans to open the first black casino, the Ivory Coast, with the help of silent partner Mo. The author has evoked a lost era of high living and conspicuous consumption with clarity and persuasiveness, so much so that you can choke on the unfiltered cigarette smoke wafting from the blaring, neon-lit town. What's more, he understands the psychology of its denizens: "When a real gambler starts losing real money, the money becomes unreal. First, losing the money loses significance, and then losing the money becomes the entire point." Alas, the book falls back on most of the old Vegas clich s, with name dropping aplenty (Sinatra, Dino, Satchmo, Ella, et al.). More regrettably, Fleming saturates the plot in violence, which erupts periodically and pointlessly, so that the novel, in spite of its epic pretensions, comes up snake eyes. (Feb. 25) Forecast: A smartly designed jacket (with a pair of dice as "O"s) and the recent remake of Ocean's 11 may give this novel a boost. The author's status as a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair as well as a former staff writer for Newsweek and Variety should help even more. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A noirish thriller that recalls The Man with the Golden Arm, L.A. Confidential, and The Carpetbaggers-minus their style, bite, and pace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312422141
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Fleming is a veteran entertainment industry reporter and the author of After Havana (Minotaur, January 2004), as well as The New York Times bestselling The Goomba's Guide to Life and High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2002

    Noir returns

    You can practically feel the heat of the Nevada desert and the taste of gin in this one. It's a successful return to noir without camp or cliche. There is suspense and a bit of the whodunit, all within a stylised yarn of Las Vegas, but it's also evocative and suffused with Hopperesque light and characters. If the ending is improbable and clumsy, it's still worth the trip to get there.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    tremendous mid-twentieth century intrigue

    In 1955, trumpet player Deacon rides the bus from Chicago to Las Vegas. He barely disembarks from the bus when Mo ¿the man¿ Weiner pages him. Deacon knows you always respond when someone called ¿the man¿ wants to see you and immediately does. Mo orders Deacon to drive two hours to Shipton Wells where he is to warn someone to go back to Los Angeles. Deacon does the job, but someone else shoots the man anyway. Deacon grabs the man¿s suitcase and asks Anita, a waitress he just met, to stash it for him. <P>Deacon realizes everyone in Vegas tries to manipulate the odds. Mo is the front for the Chicago and Los Angeles mobs and plans to make a killing on a new casino, THE IVORY COAST, that he will open in the Black West Side of town. Worthless Worthington Jones is his front with his own contrivance for a killing. Police chief Haney has his schemes to trump everyone else. All three intersect with Deacon and that suitcase he lifted, making life dangerous for the horn player. <P>Though Deacon trusting Anita with the booty he snatched seems strained, readers will find Charles Flemming¿s debut novel a fascinating look at 1950¿s Las Vegas. The story line is so rich with history that it makes it possible for the audience to roll with high rollers and observe the Black stars unable to eat or sleep where they performed. THE IVORY COAST is a tremendous historical intrigue that is at its finest with its fifties texture that fans of mid-twentieth century tales will enjoy. <P>Harriet Klausner

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