More than a mystery


  Having lived here since 1981, I’m usually supercritical of writers who claim to understand Las Vegas. Books written by carpetbaggers are as glitzy as the Strip ... and just as superficial.
  That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by “Vegas Die.” Author Stephen Grogan “gets” Las Vegas. After talking to him, I understand why. For starters, he’s lived here for more than eight years. Even better, he works in the gaming industry for one of the top game design companies in town. 
  The book itself is more fun than the roller coaster at New York-New York (and lasts a lot longer). When someone starts bumping off the old-time mobsters of Las Vegas, the mayor (based loosely on our own flamboyant Oscar Goodman) becomes the No. 1 suspect. Mix in an over-the-top cast of card counters, Elvis impersonators and assorted corpses, and you’ve got the ingredients for a sizzling summer page-turner.
  Cliches? Sure, but Grogan gives a playful spin to the story that lets the reader know he’s not only in on the joke, he’s orchestrating it.
  Speaking of orchestration, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Grogan holds the reader after the whodunit ending by offering a treasure hunt for a dagger hidden somewhere in the Las Vegas Valley. Clues to the dagger’s whereabouts are buried within the pages of the book. The first reader to solve the puzzle can keep the dagger or redeem it for $25,000 cash. 
  Those who go in search of the prize, dubbed “Questors,” need to register at QuestMystery.com to learn the ground rules.
  “Like don’t dig up the author’s backyard,” Grogan jokes.