Vegas Knights already ticks one box for me and I like the title as well. The blurb promises magic, gambling and it all takes place in the City of Sin and I thought that could work really well so I bought it on the release date from Amazon. I have never read anything by Matt Forbeck before so I did a bit of research. Apart from writing books Matt Forbeck also works as a games designer for several big brands which is pretty cool.
Unfortunately I don't feel that the book delivers that well. Almost immediately I start disliking the characters. Jackson Wisdom is a young man with a tragic background. He lost his mother in Hurricane Katrina and shortly after his father left him with his grand mother and has not been heard from since. They don't have a lot of money but his grand mother wants to put him through university. Jackson is supposed to be lacking in confidence, but to contradict that his tough upbringing New Orleans has supposedly made him a tough cookie.
At university Jackson has befriended Bill Teach who comes from a wealthier background which he likes to point out to Jackson. Bill seems to be everything that Jackson is not; confident, daring, successful with women and just a hot head in general.
Together they have been studying magic under a professor at the university. Magic is not normally taught I suppose, but the professor used to be a friend of Jackson's father.
The two friends have decided to go to Las Vegas on their spring break to try and make some easy money by using magic to cheat the casinos. The professor has warned them against using magic in the public and especially in Las Vegas. Had he spent more time explaining to them WHY this is a bad idea Vegas Knights would have been a very short book. You would think that someone whose job is to teach young adults would be aware of that just barking out commands wont work, but no.
Their first night in Las Vegas goes well and they do win a lot of money. They do what any young men that have just won a lot of money would do, celebrate. If you want to celebrate something the City of Sin is a good place to be in. Jackson is feeling tired so he leaves early and leaves Bill on his own. Everything seems fine until Jackson is woken up in the middle of a night by someone knocking on their door. Bill has been brought back home by an unknown women. This is Powi who is a Italian/Hopi Indian smoking hot chick and also knows that they have been using magic. She scolds them and tells them this is really a bad idea, calls them names and then leaves with a look that promises Jackson that she fancies him.
Once again they have been warned off using magic in Las Vegas without being told why...
Magic is a central theme in Vegas Knights and it does set this book apart from other books in the genre. The magic they have is quite powerful and lets them do some pretty neat things without ever really having to stop and rest. Harry Dresden would have been left drained and barely conscious while Jackson and Bill were just starting to get warm.
It annoys me that Matt Forbeck could not find a better way to move the plot forward than having every character giving the boys obscure warnings when it would make a lot of sense to tell them why they should not do things. It certainly does not help that I never really warm to the characters and the book just does not come together properly.
Verdict: Don't Read