For 16-year-old Nikki Tate, home is a Las Vegas casino called Andromeda’s Palace that her parents own and run, but it’s Nikki who actually keeps the place afloat. This is by necessity, as her father, Nathan, was sent to death row on a false murder charge. Miraculously, his innocence is proven, resulting in his release from the penitentiary.
But Nathan’s return home has not been as joyful as expected. Nikki’s been pulling in money by winning poker games against Vegas lowlifes, a practice that is squashed by her father. Nathan hasn’t been around the casino; he’s spending long hours looking for the true murderer who escaped justice. When Nikki’s father is found slaughtered in a dark alley, she takes up that search herself, but things get complicated quickly. Nikki’s new boyfriend, Davis, is the son of rival casino owner Big Bert, who incurred her father’s enmity. Is Big Bert behind Nathan’s murder? If so, what does that mean about Davis’ interest in her?
The suspense builds steadily as Nikki is consumed by her quest. Author Lamar Giles stokes the tension with Nikki’s involvement in high-stakes poker games and the dangers she faces charging through the sordid side of Vegas. Like Nick in Giles’ Fake ID, Nikki is black, a fact that will appeal to many readers as much as the twists and turns of this well-crafted mystery. This is a fun read for fans of Harlan Coben or April Henry.
Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.