Wednesday, March 02, 2016

An Oasis in the Desert

Sybil here. As you read this, I’m on my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Creative Painting convention. Right now I’m probably prowling the trade show floor in search of the latest designs and supplies to spend money on.

I’ve loved Vegas ever since my first visit in the late 70s when I was in college. Something about it fascinates me. Normally, I dislike crowds and excess noise but I make an exception for two places: Sin City and Disneyland.

Vegas is a city of constant change. There’s always something new to see. The casinos on the Strip reinvent themselves on almost a yearly basis. They add rooms, change themes and attractions, refurbish their look... Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of those changes myself. Most of the really old casinos on the Strip are long gone. Circus Circus remains but across the street the Riviera is now closed, waiting to be imploded to make way for convention and meeting facilities for the nearby convention center.

It should come as no surprise that I like fiction set in Vegas as well as non-fiction accounts of its history. The most recent mystery I read that was set there is Ghost of a Gamble by Sue Ann Jaffarian, book 4 in the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series.

In it, spiritual medium Emma Whitecastle with the help of the ghost of her great-great, etc., grandmother, Granny Apples, solves a mystery “involving a casino heist gone bad, a hidden stash of stolen loot, and a missing wise guy who’s not letting death come between him and setting things straight.” If you like a little paranormal in your mystery, check it out. It’s a fun read.

On the non-fiction end, I’ve been reading Sharks in the Desert by John L. Smith, a history of Las Vegas from its mob beginnings to around 2005 when the book was published. A lot has changed in the past ten years, but it’s still an interesting read. Super Casino: Inside the “New” Las Vegas by Pete Earley is also worth reading.

The Las Vegas Sun Times maintains a history section of its website with all kinds of interesting information on the city from maps to videos to a timeline of its history. I particularly like the interactive map of the Strip where you can see how it’s changed decade by decade.

That’s it for me for now. Hope you’re all having a good week. I’ll see you after I get back from Vegas.

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