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Book Review of Dice Angel by Brian Rouff

At first glance, this book didn’t look very exciting, as the front is a dull gray color with dark gray lettering and a soft image of an angel worked into the words. However, just as the saying goes, we shouldn’t have judged this book by its covering.

To our surprise, after picking this book up, it was hard to set it down! The chapters are short but are packed full with riveting information that entices you to keep reading.

This book is the story of Jimmy D, a middle-aged bar owner whose life seems to be a constant string of bad luck. His ex-wife loves making his life miserable, his accountant fled town with all of Jimmy’s money, and he’s about to lose the bar to the bank.

Finally things start to turn around when Jimmy is introduced to the Dice Angel, who gives him the opportunity to turn his life around through success at craps.

  • Will luck continue to be in Jimmy’s favor?
  • Or will he lose everything and have start over from scratch?

You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

About the Book

Dice Angel
Audience
Middle-aged Men and Women
Author
Brian Rouff
Genre
Fiction, Gambling-related
Length
38 Chapters, 242 Pages
Point of View
First Person Narrative
Publisher
Hardway Press
Publishing Date
January 2002
Setting
Las Vegas, Nevada in the 21st Century

Brian Rouff Bio

Brian Rouff was born in 1955 and although he started off as a freelance writer who specialized in advertisement, he has more recently turned to writing books.

Dice Angel was the first book that Rouff wrote, but he also wrote Money Shot in 2004 and one chapter of Restless City in 2009.

In addition to that, Rouff has also been a regular contributor to the Las Vegas CityLife, a weekly newspaper and his own personal website, Living-Las-Vegas.com.

Today, Rouff is a managing partner of Imagine Communications, which is a full service advertising, marketing, and public relations firm based in Henderson, Nevada.

Chapter Summaries & Thoughts

  • Chapters 1-5

The first few chapters are where you learn a lot about the narrator of this novel, Jimmy D. He tells you about his past experiences with his ex-wife, his daughter, Jenny, and his deceased father.

You’ll learn all about the bar that Jimmy inherited from his father and you’ll be introduced to all of Jimmy’s friends.Instantly, you’ll feel connected to this man who is down on his luck and although he can be stubborn and insensitive at times, you’ll have a desire to see him come up on top.

Early on, tragedy strikes, as the bar has been broken into and thousands of dollars have been strategically stolen from the slot machines inside Jimmy’s bar. Of course, Jimmy is responsible for paying that money back and so begins the slippery slope of Jimmy’s money problems. Soon his cards start getting declined and his checks start bouncing.

Although Jimmy is started to get concerned, he’s distracted because his daughter Jenny is in town. You get to meet Jenny and see their loving father-daughter relationship that further makes you fall in love with Jimmy D.

  • Chapters 6-10

Chapter 6 is where you’ll be introduced to Owen, Jimmy’s current accountant and ex-brother in law. He tells Jimmy that he can rest assured because the complications have been resolved.

The next day after his encounter with Owen, his wife Sarah calls to inform him that Owen is missing and that he never came home that night.

The bank called Jimmy the very next day to inform him that his entire life savings had been emptied and he no longer has any money in his accounts. As Jimmy’s bad luck continues to grow, he comes to the dismal realization that Owen had been embezzling money from him.

If Jimmy doesn’t act fast, he’s going to lose the bar! He tries to get a loan from the bank, only to find that there is a lien on his property because Owen had failed to pay the businesses taxes.

Jimmy has no choice but to get a lawyer but has no luck finding one that will take his case seriously, so Jimmy starts turning to alcohol for comfort and by the end of this book, you’ll probably think he’s an alcoholic.

  • Chapters 11-15

By Chapter 11, it’s time for Jimmy to tell Sarah everything he knows about her husband and through this we see his love and compassion for other people. He’s so kind and sweet to her that you grow more attached to his character.

After meeting with his assigned lawyer Poon, Jimmy discovers that he is going to have to pay over $56,000 in just over a year or he’ll lose his bar.

Believing that’s practically impossible, he strikes a deal with Poon, allowing his band to play at the bar regularly, as long as he can have a two-year extension on his debt.

Poon’s band is unfortunately too awful to keep on staff, as they scare the regular customers away. Jimmy has no choice but to fire Poon’s band and reap the consequences, which in this case are him owing the complete $56,000 in cash by the end of the month.

To make everything worse, Jimmy’s good friend, Zelasko, who happens to b a private investigator, calls to inform Jimmy that Owen’s past is untraceable and there’s no record of him prior to the time he started dating Sarah.

  • Chapters 16-19

Pete, the homeless man, that frequently visits Jimmy after hours for a free meal and to give him advice will give him a business card that will change Jimmy’s life forever.

The card reads “Dice Angel, I Will Bring You Luck at Craps, Ask for Amaris, 702-555-1431. (Just for fun, we called the number on the card to see what would happen, but unfortunately the number is no longer in service.)

Jimmy exclaims that he would never become that desperate but takes the card and stuffs it into his wallet for good measure. He then goes on to explain to Pete that he has a bad history with gambling addiction and hasn’t been to a casino in over five years.

Even though Jimmy knew this day was inevitably going to come, he still was bitter when he received a letter from the IRS the following day.

Jimmy reluctantly decided it was time to tell his employees exactly what was going on and to his surprise, they were very supportive of him and even offered to work on tips alone for the next couple weeks.

In hopes to put a dent in his debt, Jimmy starts selling off his prized possessions such as his auto-graphed Al Kaline Jersey and the Rolex that his father gave him when he graduated high school.

He decided to clean out his wallet in hopes to find something that will help him collect more money when he sees the Dice Angel Card. As he was about to throw it away, he could hear Pete’s words, “What do you have to lose?”

  • Chapters 20-24

Jimmy sets up an appointment to meet with Amaris at a nearby diner and when it came to be about fifteen minutes after the time they were supposed to meet, he suspected that he would never come. Amaris did come and brought her intense, vibrant personality with her. Their meeting was pretty typical, as they asked each other questions about themselves and Amaris took the time to explain her powers.

Although Jimmy is still skeptical, he agrees to meet Amaris at Wild Bills Gambling Hall the next day. After Amaris slips away, he takes her tea-cup and plans to give it to Zelasko so he can do a background check on her.

Since Jimmy did some investigating, we decided to do some ourselves. We looked into the Wild Bill Gambling Hall to see if it was an actual place and everything seemed to be just as described, a small casino just a few miles away from the main strip.

This adds a certain amount of authenticity to the book that we truly appreciate.

As soon as Jimmy gets back into action, his old habits start falling back in place and the bad luck he had before still followed him to the present day.

After studying Jimmy’s every move, Amaris gives Jimmy a few pieces of advice that may help him naturally become a better gambler such as betting at a full table with friendly people and to not get defeated when things don’t go his way.

Amaris noticed that Jimmy a deep hatred for money and she believed it’s probably linked to experience he’s had from a past life.

  • Chapters 25-29

Amaris demands that Jimmy visits Dr. Arnie Gilman who is considered a Doctor of Parapsychology. While there, the doctor hypnotizes Jimmy so that his previous life could be revealed.

While hypnotized, Jimmy is taken back in time to where he was a Holy Man that would collect money from peasants for God but would use it for his own selfish desires. When Jimmy woke up, he realized that he needs to learn to put others first in order to overcome is hatred of money. This was certainly a turning point in the story for Jimmy.

The next casino that Jimmy and Amaris plan to meet is the Golden Gate casino, which also checks out when it comes to authenticity. Jimmy starts playing with a decent bankroll of $500 which he had to borrow from the bar.

Amaris stood close by to Jimmy, speaking enchantments and working her magic behind the scenes. Jimmy started off on a roll but then quickly lost $200 and was very frustrated until he bet on the 11, winning $4,500 in a matter of seconds.

Although Jimmy seemed to have luck on his side that night, Amaris decided they should stop while they were ahead. They depart and as soon as he gets home, Zelasko calls to inform him that Owen’s real name was actually Vincent Toledo, an old mobster that went off the grid years ago.

The police found Owen/ Vincent dead body just several days ago and needed him and Sarah to go to the morgue to confirm that it was Owen, who it ultimately turns out to be.

  • Chapters 30-32

After reading through all of Amaris’ past crimes, he decides to confront her which turns into him feeling like a jerk as she was quick to point out that most of her past crimes occurred when she was only a child.

Overlooking some hard feelings, they decide to meet one final time, on Thursday night, in order to win the extra $50,000 they needed. For the first time in a long time, Jim has hope.  He thanks Pete for recommending him to the dice angel and is anxious for Thursday night to come.

They decide to meet at Luxor Casino, another casino whose description matches just the way it’s described: a giant pyramid shaped casino which an Egyptian theme. Before Jimmy starts playing, Amaris gives him two simple pieces of advice: trust the universe and count your blessings.

  • Chapters 33-35

Jimmy immediately starts winning right off the bat, first reaching $700 and then climbing up to $11,000 in a matter of minutes. He seems to be on a lucky streak that will just never end and their plan seems to be progressing perfectly at which point Amaris gets spotted and escorted out of the casino.

Jimmy had managed to win just over $40,000 at this point, which would leave him about $15,000 short.

He decided to go against his best instincts and continue gambling without her, winning an extra $20,000 before choosing to quit while he was ahead. In total, after taking out the $15,000 he owed Amaris, Jimmy was left with $60,000 to pay back his debts and call the bar.

As soon as he came home that night, he called Poon to exclaim that e would be meeting with him tomorrow to pay his debts in full. This is where we though the story would end, happily ever after, but Rouff had a different idea.

A Surprise Ending

Jimmy gets a call from Sarah, explaining that her daughter Rachel had relapsed and was in critical care at the Desert Sun Hospital.

Jimmy rushes to the hospital, only to find Sarah crying desperately, afraid that the hospital will remove Rachel from their facilities due to a lack of funds.

Jimmy, the honorable man that he is, gives up his entire $60,000 unanimously to save Rachel’s life.

When we reach chapter 37, a few months have passed and the bar has already gone up for auction. Sarah pays a visit to Jimmy, revealing that she knows what he did to save her daughter’s life and that she is eternally grateful.

Sarah also gives Jimmy a beautiful surprise by announcing that she won the auction and purchased his bar back with money she received from the government due to her husband’s death. Sarah invites him to be his business partner and he happily accepts.

The last scene of the book is Jimmy going back to the pawn shop to buy back the watch his father had bought him as a child, showing Jimmy’s great appreciation and love for his father that is evident throughout the entire book.

Our Favorite Quotes from the Book

Jimmy speaking,

“At that moment, I had a image of Steve Wynn, the casino mastermind, in a Uncle Sam costume. I realized that casino owners and the U.S Government were in the same business of taking your money, your property, and even your hope. At least the casino gave you free drinks.”

This quotes sums up Jimmy’s personality perfectly, as it shows his blunt honesty. We also appreciate it because it shows just one of his many references to famous casino tycoons and players that add a strong element of authenticity to the text.

Jimmy speaking,

“In a single moment of clarity, I knew what had to be done. Before I could change my mind, I removed the bills from my pocket and placed them on Mrs. Burke’s desk.”

We love this quote because it show’s Jimmy’s willingness to help Sarah, no matter what the cost. He doesn’t hesitate to help her sick daughter, Rachel, even though it ultimately means that he’ll lose the bar.

This selfless act is a changing point in the book and it truly reflects Jimmy’s growth.

What Others Are Saying

Amazon gives this book 4.8 out of 5 stars, with over 125 reviews to back that up!

Casino City Times said,

“I highly recommend Dice Angel, the new novel by Brian Rouff, published by Hardway Press. It’s got a great story and is liberally sprinkled with wonderfully eccentric, though highly believable people.”

John’s Jottings said,

“Dice Angel is one hell of a fun read that should appeal to everyone whether you go to Vegas to roll the bones a couple of times each year like I do, or you simply enjoy fast moving quick hitting stories.”

Curled up with a Good Book Reviews said,

“Dice Angel’s pacing is perfect. Immediately drawn into Jimmy’s world and attached to his characters, my attention did not waiver once. However, it’s the surprise twists at the end that make the book a special read.”

Our Rating and Why We Recommend It

4.5 Out of 5 Stars

4.5 Out of 5 Stars

The only out-right downfall I see to this book and the one reason why it receives a 4.5 instead of a 5, is its wide use of profanities. We aren’t talking about a simple curse word here and there but instead you’ll find various profanities on every page.

This may not offend everyone, but there are certainly people out there that will be offended. Another offending aspect to this book is Jimmy’s attitude and description of women. He’s very rude and loves throwing out sexual references that might leave a woman very uncomfortable.

Regardless of the above criticisms, it was truly a wonderful experience reading through this book and getting attached to Jimmy and all of the other characters you meet along the way.

Books written in first person narrative are also more personable and help you understand and connect to the characters. Also the immense amount of dialog also helped us understand all the characters in the book, but for those of us who don’t enjoy all the dialog, we would probably think it’s a bit excessive.

Rouff did an excellent job of using detailed descriptions of everything that it was so easy to picture the scene he was describing.

The chapters he wrote were short, never more than a few pages long, making it easy to read a chapter of the book when you only had a few minutes to spare.

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