A Novel to Gamble on this YearAn Occupational Hazard – By James Wrethman
A term often used in the literary world could be used to categorise this novel - Faction - fiction based on fact. The factual part is all important because the book, film and television industry so often use the casino world as dramatic setting for their works but get the detail abysmally wrong. The author of this tale, which focuses on the experiences of a group of people when they first enter the London casino scene of the late 70’s, is an insider, who not only worked in the capital during that period, but has 35 years experience in the gaming industry.
In the 70’s the newly rich Arabs descended on the capital when many other affluent visitors had also decided that ‘Swinging London’ was the fashionable place to be. The conditions provided an exceptional opportunity for many businesses but in particular casinos.
However, this was not enough for the greedy and unethical executives of the fictional Ventura Club who are prepared to subvert the law to increase their returns. The escalating corruption affects all who work there.
The main protagonist Patrick Monaghan, starts work at the Ventura Club and during his initial training befriends the beautiful young Penny Irwin. Many employees are seduced by the excitement and glamour that surrounds them, none more so than Penny who becomes easy prey for those who take advantage of naiveté. When, at an in-house party, she is sexually assaulted, Pat and another friend Elena attempt to help her through the traumatic period; but in turn are caught up in the corruption and intrigue that has become part and parcel of everyday life at the club. Eventually and inevitably someone pays the ultimate price. The murder proves difficult to solve, the consequences for everyone at Ventura are profound and it will be many years before Pat, after a chance encounter, provokes the reopening of the case and modern forensic science begins to throw light on who might be responsible.
You don’t have to be interested in the gambling world to enjoy this book because it has all the other elements of crime, murder and mystery but it’s already been said, by people who were around during that time, that the setting’s absolutely authentic – go on, it’s worth a punt!
For more info check the author’s website www.wrethman.co.uk