Series: No, Stand Alone
Genre: Ghost, Paranormal, Vegas, Comedy
Age Category: Adult
Release Date: July 15th, 2015
Descriptive Blurb: Sometimes life, as well as death, is about second chances. Luckless Telly Martin doesn’t have a clue. An awful gambler trying to scrape by as a professional poker player, he becomes the protégé of world famous poker champion Clutch Henderson. The only catch…Clutch is a ghost. Telly and Clutch must navigate the seedy gambling underbelly of Las Vegas learning to trust each other in order to win the elusive International Series of Poker, repair their shattered personal relationships and find redemption in this life and the hereafter.
My Impressions: Great title, cool cover, unique premise…I even put aside my general disinterest in ghost stories to read this one. I figured I’d give it a whirl seeing as I really liked the last humorous ghost story that I read…the optimum word being *humorous*. This one? Not so much. It’s not un-funny, but all the humor is crass and mean-spirited…like jokes you would hear from a group of drunken Frat guys at a pledge party after all the women have left. And there’s a little too much talk of vomit…(I like to munch when I read so this was particularly gross.)
The Romance Angle: There’s a desert wasteland of tired romances limping along like lame horses waiting to be shot. Telly (aspiring career poker player and cab driver) and Gretchen (a failed belly-dancer turned waitress) are co-dependent and pathetic. Then there’s Clutch and the tale of two J(G)enny’s, a love triangle consisting of a dead man (the Pokergeist of the title) and two women, Jenny with a “J” and Ginny with a “G” (OMG Seriously?). QuickDaddy (I shudder to think was this monicker refers to) & Cheryl (the hooker/stripper, not sure which) saving up to buy a Cici’s Pizza Franchise…and the defunct relationship of Teenage Ruby and her unnamed drug-addicted statutory rapist…need I go on?
Major Beefs: Too much unreality…things that made no logical sense (even in Vegas).
-The drunken trio of girls (one, a bride-to-be), celebrating her impending wedding were a bit over the top and weird. Between the three of them, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have a debit/credit card to use once they ran out of cash? Or why neither of them had the sense to either pay a driver for the whole night…or designate one of the three to be responsible for getting the trio back to the hotel safely…Instead, they all get drunk, run out of money and begin propositioning a random man for sex to get cab fare to pay their way back to their hotel…WTF?! Really? So, there’s no one else in the bridal party that can come get them? The groom perhaps?
-Telly’s “despair” seemed artificial and unrealistic. If he has two degrees in Comp Sci (Bachelors & Masters) plus years of experience in that field, why on earth would he be destitute and thinking of working as a cab driving? WTF?! Why would he wait until he couldn’t pay his bills and then get kicked out of his house?? Sell the bloody house before you default on the loan…and move from Vegas to somewhere that has a more lucrative job market for IT/Comp Sci guys. Vegas is not exactly a hub of rich employment opportunities. Or another option, rent out the house to high-roller vacationers while you live in a cheaper place and look for a job on the side…to give yourself more time. Sheesh….I don’t get why he would downshift so quickly and easily into playing poker for a living and considering a job as a cab driver…That’s not a logical progression and the explanation given does not ring true.
-Ok, so Telly’s desperate to get this (ridiculous) poker-playing career of his off the ground…He and Gretchen are broke, living day to day…and after he wins an insane amount of money (nearly 20 grand in cash)…He just walks out of his admittedly crappy apartment in the proverbial bad neighborhood and leaves the door open with the money just laying around on the table top for anyone to see. So, of course someone steals it. Makes no sense.
-Why on earth would Clutch and Jenny (wife-Jenny) allow their teenage daughter to date a 27yr old drug addict??? Huh?! It was obvious Clutch disapproved of the relationship, but he made it seem like his hands were tied (which would make sense if his kid was 19 or 20)…but later we learn the daughter in question is 16yr old…and this was well after she’s broken up with the guy, which means she may even have been dating him at 15!! Eh? And Clutch was powerless to stop it?….eh…Hell-o! How about calling the police?! She’s underage and its illegal!!! That puts the kibosh on the relationship lickety-split. But to just turn his back and stop speaking to her makes no sense.
The Real Problem: I guess I had a different take on what the book was about. From the premise I thought it was going to be more of a light-hearted feel-good story centered mostly around the tournament and some fun antics of Clutch the Ghost as he helps Telly win. (It’s listed as a paranormal Vegas comedy, go figure.) Instead, it’s a male soap opera where the reader is treated to the sad and sometimes sordid trials of ever freaking person in both Telly’s and Clutch’s pathetic lives…geez! The poker aspect was almost an afterthought. It certainly wasn’t fun, humorous, or light-hearted…Oh, I get why it was supposed to be funny, but I wasn’t laughing. Mostly, the humor came in the form of insults or put downs of one sort or another. Not my brand of funny. It doesn’t help that the storyline starts to meander toward the middle. The reader is pulled into everyone’s social problems…not just Gretchen’s and Telly’s. This is around the time when my interest started to wan. Telly is an educated idiot. None of his decisions make any sense. Honestly, I disliked most of the characters…I can’t relate to them at all. Their thoughts, logic, and actions only make sense in bizarro world. And the story, the characters all add up to be slightly mean-spirited. Gretchen is the only half-way normal, rational person in the entire book.
Random Thoughts: There are some quick, in and out, POV changes that were awkward and jarring frankly…usually when the author is jumping into the mind of minor characters to get a reaction or description of something one of the more prominent characters is doing/saying. Its take a minute or two to realize the POV has changed and the thoughts are difficult to follow. Because by the time I realized, the POV had already switched back or jumped to someone else.
Cliffhanger: None. And too, the ending didn’t do it for me. Clutch’s sudden redemption and “I’ve seen the error of my ways” just rings hollow. I mean, seconds earlier and he’s this obsessed self-destructive gambling tyrant willing to do anything to win…and the next minute he’s all contrite and apologetic…Yeah, ok. Not just that…most of the other issues were cleared up just as quick and tidy.
The Verdict: Not a good read for me. Not Funny, not enjoyable…not even a likeable or believable story. Very disappointing.