The House Always Wins
Anna Christiansen’s small-town life is about to go haywire. A young reporter stuck in a dead-end job. Anna falls head over heels for an interview subject, the bass player in an up-and-coming alt band. In short order, she pulls up stakes, moves to Las Vegas.She gets married and pregnant, and moves into a big fixer-upper haunted by the ghost of a Sin City racketeer.
That’s when she gets notice from a corrupt casino owner that he’s buying up all the properties on her street to make way for a parking lot. But Anna has poured her heart and soul into the house. She digs in hard to fight the system, not the easiest of tasks in a city where bribery, mayhem, and murder are standard operating procedures.
Can Anna’s tough-guy ghost provide the help she needs.To prevail in this dangerous cat-and-mouse game? Will Anna’s life be left in ruins? Or worse?
Stepping out of my usual bounds for a minute here. Despite the fact that I don’t read much adult fiction, I actually quite liked this. I can’t say I’ve read anything set in Vegas either, so I liked seeing a change in scenery.
At first I wasn’t sure what to think of Anna. She was a bit of a doormat and somewhat unlikeable. I am proud to say that she did grow and change, settling into a much better persona. She’s not afraid to reach for the things life has to offer, even if that means ditching everything she’s ever known for a shockingly new start.
Her parents actually care about where she’s going, giving her new love the third degree before they even consider letting her step out of the door. But at the same time, it’s made very clear that she will leave regardless, so I applaud Anna for having a backbone. It’s that kind of thing that told me she wouldn’t take the rest of the book lying down.
Anna’s situation is the setup for every tragic backstory ever. She leaves her home because she’s in love with an up-and-coming musician. Barely a few months go by and she’s already pregnant, but in this case, her boyfriend – and soon husband – actually stays around. Of course, the moment when everything seems to fall into place is also the moment when a corrupt casino owner shows up with a notice that he’s going to buy out the properties.
There was much less paranormal involvement than I thought there would be. There is some to a degree and it does factor into the climax. We also get several pages of the backstory of this ghost through flashback and storytelling. It was interesting but it felt like a lot of “telling” rather than “showing”. While it was interesting to read about everything the ghost went through, I feel like his involvement could’ve been expanded and information revealed more slowly, rather than all at once. Still, this book is good in its own right and I enjoyed it very much.
About the Author
Brian Rouff was born in Detroit, raised in Southern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 1981, which makes him a long-timer by local standards. A 1977 UCLA graduate with a degree in communication studies and a minor in journalism, Rouff has spent his entire professional career in media and advertising. In 1987, he founded his own marketing firm, serving clients in such diverse fields as hospitality, computer consulting and sports information. In 2003, he merged his company with Imagine Marketing (now Imagine Communications), where he serves as managing partner. Rouff is also a professional public speaker, having facilitated hundreds of advertising and marketing workshops during his 35-year career. He’s also a regular contributor to Living-Las-Vegas.com and, in further paying homage to Sin City, is also the author of Dice Angel, Money Shot and his newest release, The House Always Wins, while also contributing a chapter to the Las Vegas serial novel Restless City.Rouff is married with two grown daughters and five grandchildren. When he isn’t writing he is enjoying all that Las Vegas has to offer, including the occasional casino buffet line.