The Secret History of Las Vegas Summary and Reviews

The Secret History of Las Vegas

by Chris Abani

The Secret History of Las Vegas
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2014
    336 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

Suspenseful through the last page, The Secret History of Las Vegas is Chris Abani's most accomplished work to date, with his trademark visionary prose and a striking compassion for the inner lives of outsiders.

Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he's sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sunil Singh, a South African transplant who specializes in the study of psychopaths. As Sunil tries to crack the twins, the implications of his research grow darker. Haunted by his betrayal of loved ones back home during apartheid, he seeks solace in the love of Asia, a prostitute with hopes of escaping that life. But Sunil's own troubled past is fast on his heels in the form of a would-be assassin.

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Book Awards

  • award image Edgar Awards, 2015

Reviews

Media Reviews

"[The Secret History of Las Vegas] is an intricate braid of story strands, enriched by vivid descriptions, intriguingly dysfunctional characters, and abundant metaphors. Expect the unexpected." - Booklist

"Starred Review. [I]n this grim but beautifully written tale…Abani creates vivid metaphors not just with his characters, but also with a drowned town emerging from the waters of Lake mead, a ghost town that hosts the Carnival of Losr Souls, and the city of Las Vegas, which celebrates the dark, the hidden and the grotesque" - Kirkus

"[A]n unsettling and complex entanglement of outsiders, freak shows, secret government experiments into mental illness, racism, sexual exploitation and fighting dwarfs….What lifts the novel is its energy, the audacity of Abani's imagination, and most all the breadth of vision." - The New York Times Book Review

"The Secret History of Las Vegas is not your standard crime novel....It's Tony Hillerman as filtered through J. M. Coetzee, a moving, strange and savagely funny book." - Los Angeles Times

"The Secret History of Las Vegas brings an admirably global perspective to the crime novel. Every noir needs a victim of circumstance, but here the circumstances are the military-industrial complex and state-sponsored racism." - The Washington Post

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Reader Reviews

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Beverly

Splendid
Splendid!
Was my thought when I finished the last hauntingly suspenseful page of this intensely intimate novel exploring the human soul seeking redemption, revenge and acceptance to the question what do we owe to others and ourselves for their roles in our lives.
While I have read other Abani’s novels in the past, I was not quite sure what to expect as this book seemed it would a departure from his other work. So I was pleasantly surprised when discovering this was much more than a standard mystery story and what initially looks like separate storylines (serial killer, atomic testing, apartheid) effortlessly intertwine around your emotions as you are folded into the characters world. As one of the character states – “There is always blame, he said. There has to be, what is life without it?”
The lyrically assured prose is both beautiful and bold in a bracingly unexpected manner as the tightly-plotted storyline deals with people who are often voiceless until they disturb the tranquility of our charmed lives.

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Chris Abani is the acclaimed author of GraceLand and The Virgin of Flames. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Hemingway/PEN Prize, the PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the Hurston Wright Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, among many honors. Born in Nigeria, he is currently a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago.

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