The Devil's Wind: A Novel

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9780060937461: The Devil's Wind: A Novel

A tale of love, murder, and retribution set in Las Vegas during the 1950s, The Devil's Wind takes place during the time of the city's swiftest growth, when snazzy new hotels are sprouting on The Strip and once a month the Atomic Energy Commission explodes an A-bomb less than sixty miles away.

Maurice Valentine is a successful architect from Los Angeles who is slick, cynical, and, above all, ruled by ambition. But trouble arrives in the form of the beautiful Mallory Walker, who seduces him and turns his world upside down. Is it love? Or might Mallory simply be using Valentine to get close to a powerful Vegas mobster with a finger in every pot? For all his power and cynicism, Valentine finds himself a pawn in a mysterious game of revenge that could cost him all he holds dear.

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About the Author:

Born in England, Richard Rayner now lives in Los Angeles. His previous books include the memoir The Blue Suit and the novels The Cloud Sketcher, L.A. Without a Map, and Murder Book. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and many other publications.

From Publishers Weekly:

Smooth, callow architect Maurice Valentine scores a calculated marriage to a wealthy senator's daughter, casually names names for Joe McCarthy, designs casino hotels and builds mock suburban subdivisions to be vaporized by atomic testing. But when cool, blonde femme fatale Mallory Walker appears, noir strictures demand that the moral house of cards that is this cynical operator's life be slated for demolition. They also require a thrillingly lurid plot machinery—including a troubled mob patriarch and son, a land scam involving Jimmy Hoffa, heroin, murder, revenge and periodic nuclear blasts—to embroider an elemental struggle pitting 1956 Las Vegas, aka corruption and hollowness, against insurgent beatnik romance. Rayner (The Cloud Sketcher) mines such Nevada gothic sources as The Godfather Part II and Bugsy for inspiration, and he handles his classic pulp materials with style. The novel's tacit theme—why the '50s deserved to be annihilated by the '60s—is conveyed by reiteration of Nietzschean truisms ("[E]verybody wants power.... Power, not goodwill, not democracy, not love," muses Maurice, while Mallory opines, "God quit a long time ago") that combine jaded worldliness with apocalyptic anticipation. Plot twists and betrayals, bomb blasts and unrequited love all add up to a classy neo-noir.
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