"I'd paid a lawyer $175 to complete the paperwork and the deal was done ... It
was Maurizio Viglioni whose father was a failed Philadelphia engineer, Maurizio
Viglioni whose mother had run away with a stockbroker ... I'd discarded it like
an unwanted suit. When I married the senator's daughter, it was as Maurice
Maurice Valentine is being groomed by important people for big things. He's a
noted Los Angeles architect whose commissions take him from the developing Las
Vegas strip to the top-secret atomic-test sites in the surrounding desert, jobs
that have him mixing with gangsters, politicians, Brat-Pack hangers-on, and
other powerful players. Poised to achieve even greater professional heights,
Valentine appears unstoppable.
Then Mallory Walker enters his life, presenting herself as an heiress with a
keen eye for architecture. Valentine, normally a cool hand at the casual affair,
falls head over heels and whisks the mysterious beauty off to Las Vegas for some
time alone. At a swank penthouse party where the high rollers gather -- Lana
Turner's there, and Frank Sinatra -- Valentine introduces Mallory to the
powerful Paul Mantilini, the mobster who's made Valentine's career. It's then
that Valentine gets the first inkling that something's amiss, that Mallory might
have an agenda at odds with his own.
At last the moment they've been waiting for has arrived, the evening's
spectacle. A piercing flash of light is followed by a bubble of boiling red
rising from the horizon: forty-five miles across the Nevada desert, the Atomic
Energy Committee has detonated another of its 4,600 A-bombs. The crowd cowers,
stumbles, readjusts, reaches for their drinks, hoping to hide the terror for a
moment longer behind their martini glasses and champagne flutes. Valentine's
life will never be the same -- not because of that explosion, but for what comes
immediately after. From the corner of his eye, he sees Mallory walking toward
him, but doesn't see the nickel-plated pistol until it's too late. Confused, he
calls out to her. She raises the gun, points it, and fires.
How could Valentine have found himself so far removed from the carefully
constructed, tidy life he'd been building all these years? The discovery of
Mallory's true motive, and of her relationship with Mantilini and the elite of
both Las Vegas and Palm Springs, will send Valentine down a path of twisted
schemes, murder, and lies within lies -- and will force him to make a fateful
decision that will save one life and end another.
Dalla Morning News
Entertaining and atmospheric period noir .... evokes Vegas
with a [lively] eye.
Booklist - Bill Ott
The real-life themes have been covered elsewhere...but Rayner stirs the pot his own way, building believable characters and
turning them loose against a recognizable but still swinging backbeat. Throw in
a couple of mushroom clouds, and you have a novel with plenty of bang and more
than a little heart.
Plot twists and betrayals, bomb blasts and unrequited love all add
up to a classy neo-noir.
Library Journal - Lawrence Rungren
Rayner uses the unsettling
realities beneath Las Vegas's glossy surfaces as symbols of a deeper and more
sinister social corruption. This noirish crime tale is recommended for most
Starred Review. A thriller as sharp as a new laser print of Double Indemnity
The first person of European descent to discover the location that is now Las
Vegas was a young Spanish scout named Rafael Rivera in the early
1700s. Spanish traders en route from Santa Fe to Pueblo de Los Angelos, traveling along the Spanish
Trail, sought a route through the valley in the hope of cutting a few days
off the journey, then known as the 'jornada de muerte' (journey of death).
When Rivera found a plentiful water supply, they renamed the valley 'Las Vegas'
(The Meadows). Find out more at the Las
Vegas City website.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...