cover image SIN CITY


Harold Robbins, . . Forge, $25.95 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0001-0

Though questions linger about just how much Robbins (1916–1997) contributed to the later books published under his name, this posthumous novel moves quickly and is great fun, a roman à clef reminiscent of his early bestselling bildungsromans Never Love a Stranger (1948) and A Stone for Danny Fisher (1952). Packed with vintage Robbins boudoir scenes, it follows a street-smart youth clawing and copulating his way to wealth and power. Born Howard Hughes Jr., the bastard son of the famous multimillionaire recluse, Zack Riordan comes to Vegas in 1966 at age 12, and 12 years later has become the youngest casino security chief on the Strip. The narrative follows Zack's career as he gets involved in a vicious rivalry with the wastrel son and snooty Vassar-educated daughter of his mentor, Con Halliday, the aging owner of the casino Zack has helped save from ruin. When Zack is unceremoniously fired, he crosses continents to cut deals with Chinese criminal elements in Hong Kong and to parlay his quick wits and daring into enough money to finance his own casino, unwinding from hard days of sordid financial exploits by bedding one beautiful woman after another. Returning home, Zack discovers that he has a son by his former mentor's daughter, and finds himself wondering if he has paid too high a price for wealth and power. Those Robbins fans who haven't already fallen by the wayside will be rewarded for their devotion with this unexpectedly lively offering. (Oct.)