With Ivan Monk, the philosophical private-eye fighting crime and racism on the gritty streets of Los Angeles, Gary Phillips exploded on to the mystery scene. Booklist called Bad Night is Falling, “solid, hard-boiled fare.” Edgar Award Winner Wendy Hornsby, creator of the Maggie MacGowen series, called Monk “magnificent,” while Walter Mosley said “Phillip’s hero makes us think he’s waging a war for own salvation.” Now the city of Las Vegas becomes a glitzy, gun-happy backdrop for ex-showgirl Martha Chainey, Phillips’ provocative new protagonist.
The big time casinos of Las Vegas may now be “family safe” and run by the Ivy League-educated grandsons and daughters of the mobsters who built the gambling Mecca, but in the backstreets and boardrooms the same old hustle continues. Grifts, scams, and skimming operations are still the way to make big money—just like in Bugsy Siegel’s day.
Which is just fine with Martha Chainey. A beautiful, six-foot former showgirl with a Nautilus body and a don’t-mess-with-me attitude, Chainey (nobody calls her Martha) works as a courier, transporting large sums of money under the table for casino owners. She’s been around long enough to know the score and she has no qualms about making her own living in the shadows of Sin City’s neon lights…until the day her luck runs out.
On the job for Frankie Degault, the churlish owner of the ritzy Riverhead Casino, Chainey is ambushed by a crack team of masked shooters who make off with the seven million in cash she was hired to deliver. Degault, who fancies himself a west coast Tony Soprano, gives Chainey just 72 hours to recover the money—or else she can pick out her own coffin. Chainey’s desperate run leads her to a junkyard in Richmond, a Bay Area gay rave, and to some of the toniest addresses in Marin County. It also takes her back home to West Las Vegas—Black Vegas—where she calls in markers from friends and foes alike.
High Hand boils to a thrilling climax on Vegas’s famous Glitter Gulch as Chainey wagers her life in the ultimate high-stakes poker game. Packed with suspense, wit, and shrewd social observations, this is Gary Phillips’ most thrilling novel yet.