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    Review of VEGAS NERVE by Susan Rogers Cooper (see her website)

    Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, March 2007

    Sheriff Milt Kovak decides to accompany his psychiatrist-wife to Las Vegas where she is addressing a convention. He intends a bit of gambling, some diet-bending, and some magic moments with his beautiful wife. He doesn't intend to hook up with his distant cousins who live in Las Vegas but that's what happens. When he learns her husband has been beating his daughter (so badly she nearly loses her child), Milt's cousin, Burl, assaults the younger man and is arrested. It turns out that the husband's father is a casino owner and power in Vegas--he can protect his son and get other people into trouble. Milt heads down to bail his cousin out, only to have Burl vanish--and the abuser shot.

    Milt is certain Burl could commit murder, but equally certain he wouldn't shoot a man in his sleep. Along with Burl's five sons--who show up in support of their mother and sister--Milt needs to find the real killer. One thing is certain--the cops are happy with Burl as their suspect. Unless Milt can find the truth, Burl is likely to take the rap.

    Meanwhile, back in Milt's Oklahoma Sheriff's Department, acting Sheriff Emmett Hopkins decides to ask out sexy officer Jasmine. He hasn't dated since his wife committed suicide and he's not sure how to do it, but Jasmine certainly floats his boat.

    Author Susan Rogers Cooper (see more reviews of novels by Cooper) spins an interesting murder with Burl's dysfunctional family trying to come to terms with itself in Las Vegas and disfunctional Emmett trying to come to terms with himself back in Oklahoma. For me, the Emmett scenes didn't really add much to the mystery but regular readers of this series might find this character development to be interesting. Milt and the Las Vegas mystery is certainly the more interesting part of this story. Cooper didn't really give us the clues we need, as readers, to solve the mystery ourselves, but the interesting characters and Cooper's capable wordsmithing certainly make VEGAS NERVE an approachable read.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/07/07

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