The Druperman Tapes

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Emmett Druperman, CEO of the Galaxy Casino, is known as the “toughest S.O.B. in Vegas.” So when he receives a demand for five million dollars to prevent a poisoning in his casino, he refuses to pay. The poisoning that results is followed by the electrocution of a famous entertainer and a fire that causes several deaths and huge property damage. An Oklahoma City-style bombing that could kill hundreds is then promised unless the extortionists’ demands, which have now grown to $50 million, are met.

The gang carrying out this mayhem consists of two small time card cheats and a disgruntled Galaxy employee, all looking for the proverbial “one big score.” Their main adversaries are Druperman, the Galaxy's security chief, Steve Forrester, one very sharp city detective, and several very smart police crime technicians.

John Goodger's The Druperman Tapes has its moments, but overall it is pretty familiar fare. A once rarely written about Las Vegas gaming industry has attracted a lot of writing in recent years. The clock-running-down climax in this book is even more of a commonplace. And a love plot, contrived, perhaps in hopes that it might increase chances for a movie deal, merely slows the read.

There are more serious defects here as well. The bad guys make some incredibly stupid mistakes. And the author's characters all seem to speak with a hackneyed ethnicity. Druperman spouts Yiddish. Buster Malloy addresses people as “boyo.” A German card cheat says Ja instead of yes. And a French maitre d’ actually says “Ze table is ready.”

It is almost always a good idea for an author to read the market. But not a very good idea to replicate it too completely.