The Heavenly Casino
by Carl Filbrich
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432829216
Date: 24 September 2014 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Investigative reporter John Holiday has turned to writing book length nonfiction. His exposé of police corruption in the death of a gay friend has made him persona non grata to the police and made a determined enemy of Jesse Mercer. Now he is in the center of another murder and someone with a gun has him in sight.
Intrigued by a newspaper mention of a mega church with plans for a Christian casino, John contacts the church and is referred to the minister, Marcus Mallenbee. He arranges a meeting at Mallenbee's home where he meets Mrs. Mallenbee and her rebellious stepdaughter, Charity. As he finished the interview about the church's plan for a Christian-themed casino, a sniper shoots at Mallenbee.
The minister arranges to meet John for lunch the next day at a casino. After lunch when the men go to their cars in the parking garage, Mallenbee is shot and killed. Because of John's earlier book, the police are less than friendly and accuse John of the murder. Fortunately, John's girlfriend, Kate Longworth, is a police detective and intervenes.
Suspicious, John continues his investigation into Mallenbee's church, the casino idea, and other members of the church. He talks with Al Fresco, a somewhat sleazy reporter. Further complication comes from Mrs. Mallenbees’s former husband, head of a strange sect, and a rival preacher in Las Vegas who decries the idea of a Christian casino.
Filbrich uses the Las Vegas setting well and introduces a Howard Hughes-type of recluse who embraces the Christian casino concept and was funding it. The author shows no mercy to his sleuth. Poor John suffers several beatings in the course of solving the murders.
This a debut mystery and the author is working on another mystery, as yet untitled, featuring John Holiday. Mystery readers will enjoy unraveling the convoluted story. Astute readers may guess the killer, but with so many suspects, others will not. A worthy first novel.