A former editor for Avon was excited about an action-adventure novel I submitted, The Fifth Coin. He said he plowed through the original version of The Fifth Coin because he couldn’t believe a writer could carry a plot across something as large as the manuscript that arrived on his desk.
Although he thought my writing well above the level of most published authors, the most successful line at Avon was mysteries. He asked if I would try my hand at this best-selling genre. As a reader, mysteries were not my interest and I was less than thrilled about the prospect of penning a story about a genre I didn’t appreciate. In the end, I wanted to figure out how to combine my interest in the paranormal with a classic “who done it” story line.
Las Vegas casinos hold a compelling fascination for many people. Having spent most of my adult life in this business, I decided to use Las Vegas and its casinos as the backdrop for this mystery.
Nevada is a complex tapestry involving such incredulous sites as Area 51, the nuclear proving grounds, wide tracts of land inhabited by the last wild horses in America, and a few small towns along isolated highways, which are still as much a part of the wild west lore as Tombstone, Dodge City, or Yuma.
Nevada is the last great frontier in America. More than 84.9% of its land is owned by the Federal Government. The area designated as the State of Nevada leads the nation in the production of both gold and silver—a government hedge fund against bankruptcy, failure and total collapse.
The Feds were happy to allow Nevada to legalize gambling–figuring the wasteland of scrub, alkali flats, and blistering sun would never amount to much. So, it came as a surprise to politicians, bankers, and Wall Street when the tiny city at the edge of the great Mojave Desert, the last train stop between Salt Lake and Los Angles, became a Mecca of excess and debauchery, which proved irresistible to corporate executives, middle class Americans, gamblers and grifters alike.
Mob bosses were masters of marketing. They rolled out the red carpet, made everyone feel like high rollers, and pandered to individual vices with inviolate secrecy. Employees earned good livings, a card sharks who thought they could beat the odds earned an “86” from the casino. The original meaning of “86” was eight miles out and six feet under.
When I came to Las Vegas in the 70s, the mob still owned the city. From a front row seat, I watched the effort to push mob influence underground and legitimize gambling as corporate America set their sights on the river of cash flowing through every casino in the state.
This industry provided an inexhaustible supply of characters, spectacular settings, henchmen disguised in Armani suits, along with some of the vilest characters in humanity. You’ll find pieces of all of them in the pages of Glitter, a work of fiction based on the experience the experience of many years.
With Nevada, the last frontier in America, as the setting, readers are transported from the neon lights of Glitter Gulch and The Strip to windswept valleys, inhabited by sage, sand and lizards, which lie between the majestic sentinels of the Ruby Mountains and the stark Mojave Desert. Las Vegas’ underbelly is exposed as corrupt officials, greedy politicians and casino pit bosses, with all the scruples of an alley cat, weave together a tale of love and hate; sin and redemption; greed and self-sacrifice—and, of course, murder.
I invite you to enjoy two Las Vegas stories—Glitter and The Magic Wand. These are works of fiction with many truths woven into the story, which have the potential to become reality.