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The Picasso Flop: A Texas Hold'em Mystery    by Vince Van Patten & Robert J. Randisi order for
Picasso Flop
by Vince Van Patten
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

A Picasso Flop a term for a poker hand figures in this first novel by Vince Van Patten, host and commentator of the nationally televised Travel Channel program World Poker Tour. Talk about writing of what you know. Van Patten does so here and does it well.

Jimmy Spain returns to the poker world at the Vegas Bellagio after a ten-year hiatus, which he spent in prison on a manslaughter charge. He is asked to mentor the daughter of an ex-con, Kat the money's good and he kinda likes the kid. What starts out as a chance to get back on his feet and pursue the career that suits him best turns into a depository for dead bodies. People get whacked at a frightening pace. Spain is hired to find the killer while he tries to concentrate on the tournament - with a million dollar prize dangling before his eyes.

Spain is a laid back character who has scruples and tries to live by a set of rules of his own devising. The mentoree is a cute kid who says Dude one too many times for my liking but grows up some under Spain's tutelage. I found the background of the Bellagio and the other casinos on the strip very interesting. I shall probably never see Las Vegas, but enjoyed my trip there via the printed word. If you love poker, you will love The Picasso Flop. If you don't love poker, you will still enjoy The Picasso Flop.

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