November is here, and with it comes the beginning of the holiday season. Today also kicks-off National Novel Writing Month, and of course, an all-new book review for you to enjoy. Today’s selection is by Cynthia Vespia. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as her business page Original Cyn Advertising.
What city better epitomizes the struggle between good and evil, sinners and saints, than Las Vegas? Sin City is the American capital of indulgences, of gambling, sex, drugs and alcohol. Vegas is a hedonist’s oasis, where the wealthy congregate, where power resides, where lives and dreams are made and broken. It’s where fortunes are won and lost, and where ultimate price is sometimes paid.
Luck Sevens by Cynthia Vespia follows a motley crew of characters, each with their own journey, their lives intertwined by Saints and Sinners, a casino and main setting for our story.
When casino owner, Charles Vega, is found dead, after appearing to have jumped from his suite at Lucky Sevens casino, the place is sold, rebranded as Saints and Sinners, and life goes on. It’s just another day in the city of sin.
Luca “Lucky” Luchazi, head of security for Lucky Sevens, survives the transition and remains at his position. Lucky’s mentor, friend, and father figure, Vega, built Lucky Sevens from the ground up, and after Vega’s death. Though his job consumes much of his time, he bemoans the changes brought about by the new owners.
The driving force behind the story is the power play between Eddie Zeder and his main headliner, magician Chris King. Zeder, forced to drop out of law school by his father in order to manage the property, is at once out of his league, but has the desire to manage Saints and Sinners to finance his personal addictions to cocaine and later meth.
King, who’s own draw is beginning to wane, had been attempting to hijack control of the casino from the previous owner, only failing due to Vega’s untimely death. After the set back, King attempts to take the reins from Zeder, and a battle of wills ensues, one where not only egos are at stake, but lives are seen simply as collateral damage.
Lucky is caught up in the in-fighting, struggling to maintain order. He is at odds with his boss, who he sees as a petty egotist, and King. As the death count begins to rise, his own life is at risk, as he tries to get to the bottom of the situation. Once Brooklyn, Lucky’s ex, becomes involved, a woman who he still cares for and deeply loves, he knows that he must do what he can to protect her, while trying to protect his tenuous hold on his job.
There’s a lot of elements at play in this book. Like I’ve already mentioned, there’s the war for control between Zeder and King, and their disregard for anyone who stands in their way to power. There’s Lucky’s struggle with accepting his mentor’s death and seeing old Vegas make way for the new. There’s the heartbreak of a failed relationship, and the lingering feelings between the two. Add to it an element of black magic, and you have a recipe for a great book, or the potential for a mess.
Happily, Cynthia delivers, offering a action-packed, sordid tale of sex, drugs, and the pursuit for power. In lesser hands, this would have been a belabored collection of stories that would have clashed, but Cynthia expertly manages to bring to this story to life.
There were, I felt a few missed opportunities. I would have liked to have seen the black magic angle play out a little more, especially during the climax of the story. I felt as though there was no denouement. The action fell away, leaving me wanting more.
Still, this was a very enjoyable read. The best stories invite you in, as if you are experiencing the action yourself. I felt very much as if I were looking at the events unfold through Lucky’s eyes. The few negatives I found were minor, and are outweighed by the positives.
As such, I would recommend this book if you like a compelling story. This is very much a book with adult themes. Sex features prominently a several key scenes. They are written in a tantalizing manner, without becoming obscene. Drugs and alcoholism are on display as well, but again, serve as a function of the story.
The book is now on sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Colon Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai in honor of Cynthia’s mother and father.