Friday, April 29, 2011

Vegas Knights

Vegas Knights was one of those books I took a chance on. The bright cover with it's aerial shots of Sin City's bright lights caught my attention from the new releases rack and I picked it up. I'd never read or heard of author Matt Forbeck before. The front cover blurb proclaimed 'It's Ocean's Eleven meets Harry Potter when two college students scam a Vegas casino - using magic'

The back cover description didn't give me a lot more, but I love Vegas and I'm a sucker for a decent caper novel, so I decided to see what this was all about.

I tend to disagree with the Ocean's Eleven meets Harry Potter comparison, although that is how Matt Forbeck pitched the concept. Ocean's Eleven was about a heist and this isn't what the two 'heroes' of Vegas Knights are about, they use magic to alter the cards on the table and thus affect the outcome of the game. I also find the Harry Potter thing to be way overused now. It's became common for anyone learning magic in fiction to be compared to J.K Rowling's boy wizard whether or not it's a valid comparison. If I were asked to provide a front cover blurb for Vegas Knights it would be: 'Bringing Down the House with magic'

The book's opening sequence reminded me very strongly of Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House (filmed as 21) and that's pretty much what it is until one of the protagonists, the irresponsible Bill, gets drunk and lets a pretty Indian shaman by the name of Powi in on what he can do. From that point on Bill and Jackson (the narrator) find themself drawn into a game where the stakes aren't money, they're life and the fate of the world.

It's a fast paced, easily written book. The prose is nothing to rave over, but it gets the point across and being a fan of Vegas and con jobs I liked the idea and the inclusion of colourful footnote characters from history such as Harry Houdini and Bugsy Siegel.

It won't tax your brain much, but you'll probably have a lot of fun reading Vegas Knights. At times it's rather like reading a movie and it was no surprise to find out that Matt Forbeck is a game designer and did pitch Vegas Knights as both a game and a movie before making it into a novel.

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