The Picasso Flop
A Texas Hold 'Em Mystery by Vince Van Patten and Robert J. Randisi
Review: Vince Van Patten, host of the World Poker Tour (WPT), teams up with author Robert J. Randisi to pen the first Texas Hold 'Em mystery, The Picasso Flop, featuring poker player Jimmy Spain. Though Jimmy Spain is fictional, the book features a number of real-life characters including Van Patten's co-host on the tour, Mike Sexton.
Jimmy Spain, off the pro-poker circuit for 10 years due to a stint in prison for manslaughter, is persuaded by a former cellmate, Harold Landrigan, to take his estranged daughter, Kat, under his wing. Her passion in life is poker, specifically, Texas Hold 'Em, and Landrigan wants to see that she has a chance to succeed. Jimmy's incentive: a condo, $10K a month, and all expenses paid to Las Vegas for the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. And there's a stipulation: Kat can't know that Jimmy is being paid by her father. Shortly after the tournament begins, a hot-shot internet poker player is found murdered, his neck broken. A day later his partner is thrown off a balcony into the hotel's pool. The only thing connecting the two murders is a set of cards found on their bodies: a jack, queen, and king, or in the vernacular of Texas Hold 'Em, a Picasso flop.
The Picasso Flop is a reasonably entertaining mystery that will likely appeal to anyone who plays Texas Hold 'Em or enjoys watching the players on television. There is a lot of insider information, and the book is peppered with poker phrases and slang. As might be expected in a book of this sort, there are fair number of characters to manage and the authors do a fine job of giving them individual traits, allowing the reader to readily distinguish between them. What might be over-the-top caricature in another setting seems comparatively mainstream here.
The plot is not as tightly constructed as it could be and is dependent upon a number of largely improbable, and at times highly coincidental, circumstances. And portraying the Las Vegas police and Bellagio hotel security as rather inept organizations certainly helps keep the murderer hidden in plain sight for as long as possible.
The Picasso Flop is subtitled a "Texas Hold 'Em" mystery, but will presumably return with most of the main characters as their personal storylines are left unresolved at the end of the book. The crimes presented here may be concluded, but what the future holds for Jimmy Spain and Kat Landrigan remains a mystery.
Acknowledgment: Hachette Book Group provided an ARC of The Picasso Flop for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Picasso Flop: Las Vegas, Nevada
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The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten and Robert J. Randisi — A Texas Hold 'Em Mystery
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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