Tumblin’ Dice by John McFetridge – Review

March 5, 2012

tumblin dice john mcfetridgeA rock band from the 70s called The High, now middle-aged, have crawled out of obscurity and gotten back together for a tour, playing the casino gigs. When they decide they can make some extra loot on the side by stealing memorabilia from other bands and robbing the drug dealers and hustlers who frequent the casinos, things take a bad turn for The High. Their dangerous game has gotten them up to their necks in deep trouble with not only an outlaw motorcycle club, and some gangsters, but the cops as well.

Tumblin’ Dice is a complex, action packed story with a lot of unsavory characters, and McFetridge is skilled at portraying Toronto “the bad”, lifting up the rug and exposing all it’s hidden dirt. McFetridge has a distinctive voice and a unique compelling style that’s all his own. His dialogue is at times unusual and quirky, although engaging. And he writes the criminal element with superb authenticity. The notorious Saints of Hell motorcycle club that McFetridge includes in his previous novels makes another appearance. This time they’re out to take over the casino action from the mob.

There’s a lot of different intersecting story lines and subplots at work in this novel within the various groups. McFetridge masterfully manages to bring them all together and make them work. There’s quite a few mentions of various band names from back in the day, names I haven’t heard of since high school, which was like a cool soundtrack for the novel playing in my head, yanking me back to my misspent youth when I went to my very first concert which was Cheap Trick, by the way, if you really want to know.

I liked that Tumblin’ Dice is set in my own back yard of Toronto and there’s references to places I know and have been. For me I think the most engaging character in this story is the biker wife Gayle, a slick and smart woman who pretty much runs the show for her man. She handles the finances, the money laundering businesses, and plays nice with the Mafia wives, having lunch with them while their husbands enter into a (supposed) territory sharing agreement.

Tumblin’ Dice is a razor sharp riveting story with a very cool vibe. Loved it. Highly recommended.

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Julia Madeleine

Julia Madeleine is a thriller writer and tattoo artist living in the Toronto area with her husband and teenaged (future tattooist) daughter. For a year she lived in the country on a 30-acre property in the middle of nowhere which became the inspiration for her novel, No One To Hear You Scream. Find out more about her books at www.juliamadeleine.com

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