Las Vegas is a wide-open neon-colored frontier town, but in this fast-moving sequel to High Hand (2000) it gets so wild the authorities literally have to declare martial law. In the middle of a heavily watched title match, boxing champ Tyler Jeffries falls under an assassin’s bullet and hell breaks loose. Cash from side-bets disappears from a safe in a locked room, and African-American ex-showgirl Chainey, now a freelance courier for the Vegas mob, is hired to find it, sooner than later. More bodies pile up as she and her pal, reporter Rena Solomon, roam the town, questioning everyone from hookers on the street to the entourage of rapper King Diamond, to links with the shadowy Black Jihad. Phillips, author of the Ivan Monk series, keeps the action quick and easy: ” `How come you haven’t been to the cops?’ `With what?’ `Oh, yeah.’ ” With her gun pressed against a torso, Chainey feels secure: “According to the brochure that came with the gun, this .45 weapon could make a swell two-and-a-half-inch-across grouping of bullets at twenty-five yards. She wasn’t the best on the range, but this close was no sweat.” Constant media references, cameos by George Foreman, Henry Silva and others make for a ready shorthand if you can’t keep track of loose ends left over from first book, a sudden cliffhanger seems ready to carry Chainey on to the next, so don’t worry about it. What we’ve got here is a fun-and-gun saga in the making, neatly reflected in the lively cover art. (Oct. 10)Forecast: With blurbs from Sara Paretsky and Walter Mosley, Phillips is a writer to watch.
— Publisher’s Weekly