(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer NOV 12, 2002)"That's when she breezed into the room, a desert whirlwind in high heels. She was tall, well over six feet, built lithe and lean like an ex-showgirl or an ex-dancer. Her clothes were black, a layered thrift shop hodgepodge of silk and lace, something you might see on a chick singer in a second-rate lounge band. But it was her hair that really stood out. It was too full, and too blonde, and too permed, with tight ringlets cascading down her face like some kind of exotic jungle foliage. She did not inspire confidence." Jimmy Delaney's had some rotten things happen to him...he is the unluckiest man to ever hit the Las Vegas tables, so much so that he hasn't gambled in years. He's divorced, so he doesn't get to see his little girl as much as he'd like, and the only thing he's got going for him is his bar. This begins to change when the police call him to inform him that his bar's been broken into, his poker machines smashed open and cleaned out. Soon after, he discovers that his accountant, a man named Owen, has absconded with every penny Jimmy has, leaving behind a wife (who happens to be Jimmy's ex-sister-in-law) with a gaggle of daughters. One of these little girls is desperately ill, and although she's in remission, everyone is worried about her.
To make things worse, Owen hasn't been paying the taxes, and the IRS has every intention of closing Jimmy's place down for good. The only chance he has is to scrape together a few dollars and meet with the Dice Angel. Louder than life, his Dice Angel has a very different way of looking at gambling, putting him through a regimen meant to clear his senses. Now Jimmy's future rests on a lucky roll of the dice, and the intentions of a very unusual angel.
Jimmy Delany's lack of good fortune, combined with his infallible smart aleck sense of humor makes for some great reading. You feel like you shouldn't laugh, but you do. His voice is written so that he puts things in such a way that makes it impossible not to laugh, even when some of the things that happen to him are really awful. The man has absolutely no luck, which makes him incredibly sympathetic, and the fact that he's hoping that a run of good luck at the craps tables will save him had me really pulling for him. It's like real life -- when you think you have the problem licked, another shows up in it's place. Every time that happened to him, I found myself wincing and wishing things would go better. I think that this shows some successfully clever writing on Rouff's part. In some ways, a book like this is a like a house of cards. There are only so many bad things stacked upon a hero that a reader can take. The fact that he manages to pull this off, creating an engaging and humorous read, really says a lot about his talent.
Dice Angel is a quick, funny read, and will certainly win a place in the hearts of anyone who has had run of bad luck.
- Amazon readers rating: from 124 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Dice Angel at MostlyFiction.com
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