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A swan dive off the Bellagio. A major drug pipeline. Middle Eastern slavers.
Murder and intrigue headline in Las Vegas. The glitz and glamour of Sin City hide a dark underbelly of greed and corruption. When an innocent falls to her death from the top of the Bellagio, Raja and Vinny are summoned to find out why.
After Raja goes undercover at the casino and Vinny tracks down a drug operation the death toll mounts, putting them both in the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
“Classic Raja at his finest! I just loved the setting and the characters. This will keep you on the edge of your seat and you won’t be able to put this book down until the last page. Absolutely love it!”
“Twists and turns so great, you won’t want to put it down.”
“Plenty of action, danger, political intrigue and baddies to bring to justice. Definitely a great read, and the series seems to keep getting better. These books don’t leave you hanging, they are stand alone worthy, but you’ll want to read them all once you get started.”
Prologue: Sin City
What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. Only a city with sin coursing unchecked through its veins would have such a motto. Appropriately called Sin City, she wears that mantle proudly. The only choice for a city mascot would be the devil replete with pitchfork and tail, and for an anthem, a hard rocker like Guns and Roses’ “Running with the Devil” to be played only at full volume.
Las Vegas is a place that conjures the most decadent periods of our planet’s past. Names like Caesar’s Palace, Casino Royale and Circus Circus whet the appetites of the depraved and self-indulgent. Opulent creations such as the pyramids and Sphinx at Luxor, the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas and the colorful flowing fountains of the Bellagio, make it easy to leave mundane reality behind. Even the signs at the edge of town boast of superlative wonders within, shouting Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas in flashing neon lights.
Inside the casinos the illusion continues. Twenty-four-hour gaming and entertainment, free flowing alcohol and beautiful smiling girls promise paradise to all who enter. In fact, Paradise is the actual name of the town where the famous Las Vegas Strip is located.
Las Vegas is a perversely ironic town. Of all those who arrive at this desert oasis, a small percentage are the wealthy who come for the idle entertainment value of throwing away their excess money while the majority come hoping Lady Luck will light a rocket ride to riches. The cold, hard fact is that in Las Vegas she is more likely to pick their pockets and then push them in front of a bus.
Today gambling has permeated the society everywhere, from Atlantic City and offshore cruises to online sites and the now omnipresent Indian casinos. Nevertheless, Las Vegas will forever hold the dubious distinction of being the first city in America built solely to celebrate the insatiable urge to throw good money after bad.
While the city attracts obsessive personalities like moths to the flame, Las Vegas is also a popular destination for bachelor party weekends, impromptu weddings and college spring breaks. When Kristin Campbell’s roommate at Colorado State had, at the last minute, suggested she come along and spend their three week break partying in Las Vegas, Kristin had reluctantly agreed. Her mother had pushed her to pledge with a sorority and make new friends at school. Although Mrs. Campbell had misgivings, she hoped that time spent with a half dozen sorority sisters in Las Vegas might be just the thing to bring Kristin out of her shell.
Despite the constant teasing Kristin got from the other girls, she spent most of her spring break reading alone in the suite they shared at the Riviera on the north end of the Strip. With only one night left in Las Vegas, her closest friend and roommate Valerie, another sophomore in the sorority, had insisted Kristin pull her nose out of her book and go with her to a party at the Bellagio.
The party was raging on the top floor and when the doors to the huge suite opened, a wall of sights and sounds assaulted the two girls. A Bruno Mars song pounded out a steady rhythm while boys and girls danced with abandon and drank in volume as was spring break tradition. Dionysus would have been proud.
The two girls had hung together for much of the night sipping Trader Vic’s Mai Tai cocktails until Valerie left with a muscular boy from the football team at Arizona State University. Kristin had refused to leave with the boy’s equally muscular friend and instead sat quietly alone on the couch, drinking and listening to the loud pulsing music.
A young man in a tacky Hawaiian print shirt who looked like another spring breaker caught Kristin’s eye from across the room. She smiled awkwardly and he chuckled at the gesture, but walked the other way. Kristin finished her drink and was halfway through another when a hand reached under her chin and gently tilted her head up. It was the boy she had seen earlier. He bent down quickly and kissed her deliberately on the lips.
“Why did you do that?” said Kristin, embarrassed but not upset.
“I don’t know. I guess I thought you could use a kiss,” he said and abruptly walked away. Kristin touched her finger to her lips, realizing they were slightly numb, probably from the alcohol. For the next hour she scanned the room hopefully from time to time but the boy was nowhere to be seen.
Four hours later Kristin came to in a dark room. After standing up she made her way cautiously to the nearest wall. Unable to locate a light switch, she stumbled toward the faint moonlight that seeped into the room around the edges of the balcony drapes. Kristin pressed the switch on the wall and the heavy drapes slowly parted, letting the moonlight flood in and revealing that she was in a large bedroom. She also realized that she was naked. Her head was cloudy and heavy, and for some reason her body ached and her skin felt warm and slightly electrified. After sliding open the glass door she walked out onto the balcony to get some fresh air. The flashing lights of the city mesmerized and beckoned her, reminding her of the summer carnival back home. Looking down she saw the brightly lit, aqua-blue water of the large fountain pool far below.
It’s a beautiful night for a swim, she thought, gazing up at the clear night sky. After carefully climbing onto the balcony railing, she remembered the form her diving instructor had taught her. Placing her feet together and her toes just over the edge, Kristin smiled, bent her knees as she was taught and executed a perfect swan dive.
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