An interesting plot centred on a rich wastrel from a well-to-do family, who in the end sort of comes 'good'. There are two very powerful male characters in this book and neither of them are the failing gambler that is at the centre of this story. One is his father, and the other a preacher of dubious reputation. There is a strong female role as well.
The book reads well and is in the main well edited. The plot is believable, unlike many thrillers, with all of the individual elements pieced together from behavioural patterns that really do regularly pop-up in the real world. There are some nice twists that kept refreshing the book without over stretching one's credulity.
The book's strongest elements, the difficult relationship between a highly successful father and a son that at thirty still hasn't fully tested his potential, the shenanigans of the evangelical preacher, and the preacher's daughter that seems to like existing on the seedy side of life, might be in a sense formalistic, but believable characters have to be, don't they? They certainly aren't ridiculous inventions.
The story dynamics lack some of the power of Waldner's first book, 'Peripheral Involvement', but I preferred the first person writing that was employed here. We need to get inside James's head in as personal way as possible, we need to understand why he was so easily manipulated, and that is perhaps only possible by engaging through his mind and his eyes. The third person style would have been far too remote for us to build any genuine sympathy for this patsy. I was sort of left doubting that James's father would have trusted a dime given past history between the two, but he did, and thinking about it as I read on, the father's assumed feelings of guilt made that element seem believable.
So, so far, two great five star reads, from Waldner, with I assume plenty more to come. If you like believable thriller fiction then these books might well be your cup of tea as they are mine.