TOBIN IN LAS VEGAS
Russ is back with the Blondes - a Las Vegas showgirl no less - and he's decked out as the Rhinestone Cowboy holding a hand of cards. As the cover says - he's literally pulling out his aces (metaphorically - what that means in the context of the story is anyone's guess). Quite frankly, Russ looks a bit daft in this get-up, and even he doesn't seem sure about it. Most annoyingly Mayflower have changed the fonts for no reason so the cover just doesn't look RIGHT sat alongside the others. This was the last Tobin book to be published by Mayflower as well. 4/10. The book is also dedicated to "All my young friends of the Gwernymynydd Club. With all good wishes and my sincere thanks for your support."
TOBIN HEADS FOR THE STRIP AND LAYS IT ON THE TABLE! It's New Year in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. And though the wagers of sin may be debt, Tobin's always a sucker for a gambol! Especially with a high-wire artiste like Pussy Katt - she's certainly a kitty worth paying into! Then when Tobin's bosom buddy , Buzz, hits the jackpot with Big Bertha it's bucks galore - until the fetching Felicia makes her big bluff. And faced with a front like hers, the world's greatest two-hand Stud is forced to raise his ante....THEY CALL IT THE MODERN SODOM AND GOMORRAH - SO SOD 'EM ALL RUSS - WHO CARES ABOUT GOMORRAH?
The cover notes (for once) don't give away much of the plot (but do feature some TERRIBLE puns). Russ and Buzz fly out of Toronto on the 30th December headed for Sydney via Los Angeles and Tahiti. En route to Los Angeles - the plane hits some turbulence and is forced down at Las Vegas. Russ and Buzz have their appetites whetted by arch-gambler Henry "Flush" Foley before they have even left the crippled plane. They are booked into the Sahara Hotel on the strip (another legendary hotel where many musical legends performed) and opt for an extra night's stay so they can spend New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. What follows is an adventure to rival Tobin In Trouble. Buzz wins 5000 dollars in the casino and is duped out of it by the beautiful Felicia De Courcey Holmes who turns out to be the front for an organised gang. Russ and Buzz then set about a fiendishly clever plot to track them down and recover their winnings! The outcome is a bit predictable but still pretty funny as our heroes sup celebratory champagne on the flight out of Las Vegas to LA. Other things to note for timeline fans - Russ is still 26 and when he orders Moet Chandon 1959 the sarcastic barman offers him Tonic 1974 - which pretty much confirms that the year is 1974 and ties up with the start date of 1975 suggested in Tobin Down Under.
Page 7. As the book opens with Russ on a plane - it goes without saying that the first lecherous description is that of the Air Hostess. For once however, she's married and not interested! It seems that Russ is not 100% irresistible!
Page 65. Leaving it a bit late on in the book by recent standards - Russ meets Angela Woolfit in a Bar. Off they go to her motel and get impressively intimate. The next morning Russ arranges to meet her again and foolishly lends her 200 dollars. That's the last we see of her AND the money unfortunately...While Buzz is having his jackpot stolen, Russ is "busy" with the tightrope walker Sandra "Pussy" Katt. He really has to make an effort with her - which makes this book notable for the fact that not one but two women fail to fall immediately at Russ's feet! It's good to see that even Russ can't pull immediately EVERY time. However, unlike the earlier Airstew, she succumbs in the end and it turns out that she was pretending all along...
Page 12. On the plane
Page 8. Russ again proudly proclaims that he is "investigating life". One of my favourite Tobin lines follows as he then promises to "investigate himself into a coma" over the next few weeks!
Las Vegas is full on con artists preying on unsuspecting tourists and gambling is a fool's game. You just can't win. Even though Buzz wins 5k on the fruit machine - he soon loses it all again.
I have to admit that I'm a BIG fan of this particular Tobin novel. The series of books seem to sit in 3 distinct sections. The "job" books where Tobin is employed and describing his experiences ("Sewing Machine Man" through to "Safari"). Then the "adventure" books where Russ is travelling the world and having crazy times ("Paradise" to "Down Under"). And then the "lost years" books where Russ is drifting from job to job trying to keep afloat and wondering what to do with his life and where he is headed ("Here Comes" to "Among The Stars"). As one of the "adventure" books it has a great plot and Stan seems to be in full flow with the characters, giving the reader a real feeling for the action. 10/10