CENTER STAGE

A Political Thriller

“An entertaining political thriller—smart and engrossing. No shortage of political intrigue depicted with astuteness and emotional drama.”
—Kirkus Reviews

TRAVEL THE WORLD—VIA YOUR FAVORITE NOVEL

I have visited Italy twice in the last few years, Rome and Milan on our last trip. From Milan we took advantage of the great Italian high-speed trains for day trips to Venice, Florence, and Lake Como—I adore the history, food, scenery, and spirited, yet relaxed vibe of the Italian people. 
The scenes in my novel Roll the Dice predominately take place in Nevada, most in Las Vegas, a couple in Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. Nevada is natural since the novel has mega-rock-star Tyler Sloan exiting the Las Vegas stage to campaign for Nevada’s United States Senate seat.
I referred to Sloan’s love of travel with remembrances of him at Rome’s Forum and references to Paris’s River Seine, but no scenes in foreign countries. I’ll remedy that in the sequel.

Travel shows on television or the internet provide great visual tours, yet a novel can dig deeper. When I was walking through Milan’s great shopping area, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a glass-topped structure lined with outstanding restaurants and retail stores, I realized the Galleria was in the John Grisham novel The Broker. The Broker was focused in Italy. When I returned from Italy I re-read Grisham’s novel. The novel’s basic plot is this: The protagonist Joel Backman is pardoned by the President at the urging of the CIA. The CIA smuggles Backman to Italy with an assumed name. Upon learning he will be stashed in Italy, Backman requests that he live in Venice. Backman is no fool—Venice is magical, an amphibious city, floating on water surrounded by centuries-old canals, bridges, and churches. Backman is first stashed in smaller towns in Italy—Treviso, Padua, and he spends most of his time in Bologna. The reader follows Backman as he travels down ancient, winding cobblestone paths, hustles along centuries-old porticoes, how he learns the right time to order espresso or a cappuccino, and he is advised never to have a cappuccino after 10:30 in the morning.

The reader is amused as Backman struggles to learn Italian as he orders meals, and he is puzzled by the Italian custom of stores closing midday and re-opening later. Anyone who has visited Italy will smile as Backman is educated on the wonder of gelato.
When Backman and his CIA sponsored Italian escort walked by a Piazza in Bologna, Backman asked about the demonstration. The escort shrugged it off and said that such demonstrations were common. My own experience in Rome confirms the seemingly daily protests in various Piazzas for political causes. I told my wife to snap a photo of me standing with a fist clenched behind some rally for God knows what cause.

In Roll the Dice, I attempted to capture the excitement, history, thrills and sometimes garishness of Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a sui generis, a unique city. I hope the scenes captured the spirit of Nevada and Las Vegas. The Broker allows you to wander Italy, cherishing the ancient buildings and architectural wonders, imagining the pleasure of a morning cappuccino at a cafe. You can almost feel the warmth of the ancient land.

Like Backman, my wife and I visited the Piazza del Duomo, the grand cathedral that took centuries to complete. On our visit to the Duomo, our tour guide led us up the pathways and elevator to the top of the grand structure. We had lunch in the Galleria and I had to, just had to, buy a nice Italian shirt at one of their stores.

I love the Venice canals, and although Roll the Dice has many scenes on the Las Vegas strip, I had the wisdom not to include Sloan boarding a gondola at the Venetian Hotel and their man-made canals. I’ve ridden the Grand Canal in Venice—and can assure you there are no slot machines on the Grand Canal.

If you enjoy traveling, get up and go. If not, read an entertaining novel. Travel enriches one’s soul whether you are sipping wine at a café in Venice or reading a wonderful novel.

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Center Stage Cover
$19.95
January 12, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64543-794-9