Hot New Vegas Novel

Huntington Press

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

It’s a ghost story, love story, comedy, and drama. It’s a memoir that looks and sounds almost like fiction but yet feels real, making it a lot like the town where most of it takes place—Las Vegas. The plot, on its own, may sound a bit threadbare. Girl falls for guy and leaves the Midwest for Sin City where the couple experiences ups and downs. In this case, however, the plot is only the skeleton on which the author molds a flesh and blood tale whose arteries and veins flow with humor, irony, compassion, and contagious charm.

Rouff’s prose reads like one friend talking to another. His narrative moves along swiftly while still taking time for observant asides and insightful interpretations. His dialogue sounds contemporary and realistic whether it’s coming from his narrator, Anna, a female cub reporter looking to jumpstart her life, or from her soul mate, Aaron, a long-haired bass player with dreams of fame yet realistic expectations, or from Meyer, a somewhat gangsterish ghost who may lack a sturdy exoskeleton but whose heart is still in the right place.

In addition to the well-developed characters above, the author even does a first-rate job of making the city of Las Vegas seem likable. Often the object of pseudo-sophisticated condescension and scorn, in Rouff’s depiction its glitter is only the makeup on a face as accepting as it is alluring. If you’re looking for an enjoyable read that will revitalize your faith in love, laughter, and cosmic karma, go ahead and roll the dice. You’ll still feel like a winner even though it’s a given that the house always wins.

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