High Heels, Whiskey, & Murder under the Neon Lights
A pretty young thing does a swan dive into a hotel pool part-way through a splashy (teehee) production number, surprising the hundreds of people watching. Granted, it’s a cool effect. Problem is, she’s not part of the show, and her unscripted entrance--tumbling from a helicopter--is also her exit. (Like, her final exit.)
Meanwhile, in another hotel... an enormous fellow is sleeping off a bender in a not-so-out-of-the-way stairwell, clad in nothing more than his pasty-white Birthday Suit. An uber-rich Japanese businessman--who regularly throws tens of thousands of dollars around each trip on wine and women--has just crashed the brand-new Ferrari that he’d put on his room tab. A national group of swingers is due to arrive any time (for an unbridled week of rowdy spouse-swapping), as is a huge contingent of techno-geeks (ready to get their nerd freak on during that little version of heaven known as ElectroniCon). And absolutely everyone who is--or who aspires to be--”someone” in the adult film industry will also be converging shortly--in all their tanned, waxed, siliconed, and barely-contained splendor--for a XXX-rated version of the Oscars.
It’s Vegas, baby... and they don’t call that glitzy little playground in the desert “Sin City” for nothing.
For Lucky O’Toole--head of Customer Relations at the Babylon, Las Vegas‘ newest premiere hotel/adult playground extravaganza--it’s all in a day’s work, though. Or it would be, that is, if not for what happened down the strip at Treasure Island... that fatal bellyflop from the chopper during one of T.I.’s nightly pirate shows. Why? Because the girl who landed in the middle of all those battling pirates and scantily-clad sirens was an employee at the Babylon, a nice girl with a bright future... someone Lucky is positive wasn’t about to kill herself.
Of course, the alternatives to her death being a suicide are few. People don’t just accidentally fall out of helicopters with closed doors... which pretty much leaves murder as the only other viable scenario. The very public murder of a perfectly-ordinary cocktail waitress is one hassle Lucky doesn’t need--especially not this week, with everything else going on--but she is determined to find out what happened, anyway. She knew and liked the girl; it’s personal.
It’s a pretty thankless task, though, as she’s about to find out. Her boss--whom everyone refers to as The Big Boss--only wants to get his hands on the eyewitness tapes and nothing more. The fact this man--her mentor--is so preoccupied and closemouthed, all of a sudden, has Lucky on edge. The helicopter pilot (who also happens to be a personal thorn in Lucky’s side) has to know something, but he’s apparently done a runner, along with his girlfriend (another Babylon employee). The handsome head of security seems to know more than he’s letting on, too, leaving Lucky uneasy about the hot-and-bothered sensations she experiences whenever she’s around him, in light of the fact that she has to wonder what sort of angle he might be playing. Even her own mother--a woman who has achieved her own brand of fame in the Vegas area over the years--has some sort of intel on the situation... but she’s playing her cards as close to the vest as everyone else.
It’s not like the rest of the world comes to a convenient stand-still so Lucky can figure out this mess, either. Every time she turns around, there’s another little fire to be put out (like the naked guy, the drunk guy, and anyone else who feels he/she just isn’t being catered to quite enough), plus the mad flurry of final preparations for all the various conventioneers (along with the titillated crowds and paparazzi that the porn banquet will certainly draw). And somewhere, sometime, Lucky would sorta like to squeeze in a little bit of personal life.
Will Lucky find the incriminating tapes, flush out the bad guy(s), get justice for the dead girl, and save The Big Boss’s skin (from whatever trouble he’s in) along with the reputation--perhaps even the very future--of the Babylon? Will any of her matchmaking efforts on behalf of a friend pay off? Will she, herself, find true love... perhaps falling for her hunky security guy, or for the sexy female impersonator who has decided that this is the day to begin his courtship of her? Will she and her estranged mother start to mend any of their broken fences? Or are all these 20-hour days, nights with next-to-no sleep, and the dark circles under her eyes for naught?
(What, you don’t seriously think I’m going to tell, do you?? Ha, fat chance!)
No, the fun is definitely all in the reading of newcomer Deborah Coonts’s dazzling debut, Wanna Get Lucky?...and giving away any hints on the rolls of the dice therein is one sin I’m not about to commit.
What I can tell you is that it’s a fast-paced romp throughout, from that very big splash at the beginning all the way to the thrilling end. (Seriously, I wish I could tell you more about the ending... but suffice it to say that it involves, among other things, a naked mariachi band. And yes, I am giggling as I write that. ;D) Full of terrific characters--drawn with surprising depth and compassion--and snappy dialogue, it’s impossible not to get hooked. Coonts has created a real winner in Lucky, a smart, capable, but not too-perfect heroine (yes, she straps on some killer Jimmy Choo's... but they hurt her feet, and she's sort of clumsy in them), with the most divinely-dry wit and snappy comebacks around. (OMG, do I love her!! I grinned, chuckled, and smirked my way through this entire book... and was really sad to turn that final page.)
The other star here deserves a shout-out, as well... Vegas, of course: a city which was born in a dry, dusty desert, and has managed to transform itself with a glitzy, glamorous, neon-lit veneer into a place where wild fantasies can come true... and where secrets can be kept (if one believes the popular slogan, anyway). Coonts offers a cool, insider look at stuff visitors aren’t meant to see or even think about, and it lends her story a real authenticity and a feel all its own.
And what about the mystery, you ask? It’s a really good one! It isn’t entirely unexpected (which also means it isn’t unbelievable), but it comes with plenty of twists and turns that you won’t necessarily see coming.
If Wanna Get Lucky? were a drink, it would definitely be a long, tall, cool one... much like Lucky, herself. As for me, well... I’m just sitting here, anxiously waiting for my refill. :)