While I am not a professional book reviewer, I feel compelled to write a few words on behalf of the man who has helped earn me money at the blackjack table. Arnold Snyder has written books on blackjack strategy, gambling in general, and Las Vegas lifestyle for decades. “Risk of Ruin” is his first published work of fiction.
Without knowing anything about the two main characters in the book–a gambling biker and an underage stripper–you might think that the contents of this book are immoral and salacious. After getting to know the two main characters, you’ll see that the book is indeed immoral, yet delicious! Arnold vividly describes the dark thoughts and desires of Bart Black, as he travels the open road searching for answers about his social and sexual insecurities and where to find blackjack dealers who show their hole card most often. Helping Bart along the way (I think) is Stacy, a desirable and poetic young woman who thinks she is a human manifestation of God, if not actually God.
At the beginning of “Risk of Ruin,” Snyder uses satirical dialogue and medically-induced flashbacks between Bart and a police sergeant to set the scene for a wild and unpredictable story. It reminded me of the first chapters of “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller. When it comes to the main character taking advantage of casino dealers who don’t protect the cards adequately, he writes in the style of Hunter S. Thompson–Snyder has obviously lived part of the life of Bart Black. The author’s attention to detail and imagery lets the reader know what it’s like to ride a motorcycle, visit a prostitute, get a tattoo, fall in love with a stripper, commit a horrible crime, and scam a casino–everything you wish you could do in real life, but can’t due to the norms of society who have a collective stick up its ass.
The story was colorful, exciting, painful and thought-provoking. I didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend the book to gamblers and non-gamblers alike.