The Investment Club by Doug Cooper

four stars

investmentTold in sixty, one-day snapshots from the perspective of an aging blackjack dealer, Doug Cooper’s The Investment Club crafts an intriguing story about a colorful cast of characters living and dealing in Las Vegas. Written in pointed prose that sharpens the details of each of the main characters, we come to learn about a self-destructive entrepreneur, a musician turned stripper with a drug problem, a retired New Jersey policeman, a feisty female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest. The novel begins and ends in the El Cortez Casino in downtown Las Vegas, where the fates and fortunes of this rag-tag band align. Unlikely friendships and partnerships spring up between this wily group of misfits, revealing the often overlooked underbelly of Vegas in a refreshing manner many readers will enjoy.

Doug Cooper is an expert storyteller, and like in his debut novel, Outside In, his sophomore effort is full of memorable characters and storylines you wouldn’t expect at the outset. While the pacing is often on the slower side with a great deal of exposition to set each scene, it all feels purposeful as the tension builds to rewarding plot points. It is clear from the striking picture of Las Vegas that the author has lived in the city himself, as the city truly comes alive on the page, even as the reader is taken to locales off the beaten path from the jarring bright lights and crowds of the strip. We get to know each of the main characters, and in a cast of so many strong personalties, that says a lot about how the author executed his story on the page. All in all this is a meticulously plotted novel and we can’t wait to see what Cooper comes up with next.

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