‘Gutshot Straight’ a fast-paced, sexy novel

  My husband and I lived in Las Vegas when we first got married. I loved it! The excitement, the glamour, the endless lure of decadence — it was heady stuff for a 20-something couple. But I knew Vegas had a sinister side too, after all, I worked for a law firm on the Strip — we got all the juicy details and gossip of the seedier side of town.
  So I was curious to read Lou Berney’s take on the dark, intriguing personality of my favorite town. And I wasn’t disappointed.
  When “Shake” Bouchon was released from prison, he had big plans. He was going to pick up the pieces of his life, walk the straight line and save up money to open a restaurant.
  Well, that idea lasted about as long as it took him to step off the bus and back into the clutches of his former boss and sometimes lady friend Alexandra “Lexy” Ilandryan. The head of the Armenian L.A. mob, Lexy has a job for Shake that sounds almost too easy — drive a car to Vegas, pick up something for Lexy and come back to L.A.
  Yep, too good to be true.
  When he hears a thumping from the car’s trunk, Shake knows he’s about to find himself right in the middle of trouble, mainly in the form of a cute con artist, Gina Clement. Gina is on the run from a “whale” with a briefcase full of religious relics, 100 ancient foreskins to be exact.
  So Shake can either grab and return the tiny and slippery stripper with big plans to the original bad guys,or he helps Gina in her quest for millions. Either way, life has sure become a lot more exciting than it was playing two bit poker in the slammer.
  Shake and Gina’s adventures take them from the bright lights and the murky underbelly of Vegas to the exotic rain forests of Panama as they race to beat the Armenians and the Nevada mob to a mysterious creepy millionaire who is determined to own the equally creepy artifacts.
  Berney’s “Gutshot Straight” is a fast-paced, sexy novel packed with spine-tingling intrigue and money-induced lust. Berney, an accomplished screenwriter brings his detail-oriented expertise to his fiction work in this debut novel, and the book reads like a movie.
  Berney deftly captures the grime and the tension-induced sweat of being on the run, and readers can almost imagine who the actors would be portraying this lively and diverse cast of misfits as the words play out the story in their minds. In my opinion, that’s a pretty good mark of a great storyteller.
  Just in case you’re not a poker player and are curious, a “gutshot straight” is a term for a hand in which the player is drawing at a single card rank for one of the middle cards to make a straight. It’s risky, but rewards the player with a big payoff if it works, which pretty much describes Lou Berney’s excellent novel.

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