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Talking Location With John A Daly – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

16th April 2022

#TalkingLocationWith….  John A Daly, author of Restitution, set in LAS VEGAS and the NEVADA desert

John A Daly

My new novel, Restitution, ventures outside of the Colorado mountains that my rugged series protagonist, Sean Coleman, calls home. It’s set in Las Vegas, Nevada and the city’s surrounding desert region, and it takes place in October of 2003.

Sean’s there to help a buddy celebrate his last days as a bachelor. Soon after he arrives, however, a twist of fate spawns a reunion with an old flame. Curiosity and a desire to make amends with her unexpectedly leads Sean down a dark path into the Vegas underground, where another face from the past emerges — a federal fugitive whose family, years earlier, altered the course of Sean’s life.

A harrowing escape drops Sean in the barren wasteland of a Nevada desert, where he must fight to stay alive against a well-armed group of men whose bloodlust and greed won’t stop them from getting what they’re after.

I’d been wanting to write a desert thriller for some time, in part because Deathwatch by Robb White was the first novel that really captivated me as a child. I’d also been hankering to infuse the Las Vegas setting more into my series. It played a bit part in my first Sean Coleman thriller, From a Dead Sleep, and I wanted to expand its role.

Why? A lot of it has to do with the mystique and outrageousness of the town, which I first visited back in the mid-1990s during a college trip.

I was in a business-computing club whose members flew out to Vegas with big plans for attending the annual (now defunct) COMDEX expo. It was headlined by Bill Gates that year, which was a pretty big deal at the time. Only, I got so caught up in the Vegas allure that I never actually made it to the event. Instead, I explored as much of the town as I could — night and day — enjoying the lights, sounds, and full spectacle of the Entertainment Capital of the World.

John A Daly

There’s something about Vegas that makes one feel like a bit of an outlaw. You say things there you wouldn’t normally say, wear things you wouldn’t normally wear, and do things… well, you get the picture. The famous saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” was born from this doctrine.

I’ve returned to Vegas many times over the years, with friends and later family, and the trips have left me with an abundance of memories, including some fun visuals that made it into Restitution.

Dusty shoved a disposable camera into Lumbergh’s hands and excitedly jogged up to the tiger, whipping his hat from his head and placing it against his chest of his suit. A large grin was plastered on his face as he positioned himself by the tiger.

“Is that Richard Marx?” said Sean. “And who’s the other guy? David Bowie?”John A Daly

Dusty’s eyes bulged. His smile vanished. “Are you serious?” he asked defensively, as if Sean had just delivered an insult.

“The guy from Aerosmith then?”

“What? Come on!” Dusty protested, prompting a smirk from Sean, who knew full well who the men on the statue were.

“They’re just the most successful Las Vegas act in history!” Dusty added.

There’s also an inherent sadness to Vegas, one that’s been depicted over the years in lots of books and feature films. Some people go there looking to change their luck, and to be around others, but the monotony of the casino culture can also make one feel alone and valueless. I felt it important to capture that side of it in my writing as well.

An elderly bald man with a small bandage on his head and droopy eyes was collecting his winnings from a machine in the corner. Once he slowly trucked off, plastic coin cup in hand, Sean took his spot, plopping himself down in the still-warm chair.

Sean glared at the reels for a moment before sliding his first dollar into the bill insert, which swallowed it quickly. He sighed and tapped a button. Fruit and sevens spun loudly until they came to a mismatched halt. He hit the button again and let his eyes wander as the reels spun.

Across the room, Lumbergh sat at the blackjack table, his face comically tense and his eyes wide as he leaned forward clutching his cards. Lumbergh was a confident man when it came to just about everything else, but his gambling face made him look about as relaxed as a suicide bomber. The elderly woman in a loud blouse next to him pinched a cigarette between her shaky fingers. She eyed the dealer’s movements, her smile displaying some missing teeth when the cards were turned over. Lumbergh bit his lip and shook his head in disappointment as the dealer collected his hand.

Las Vegas tips…

  1. Use the monorail system whenever you can. It’s an optical illusion that all of the bright, towering hotel-casinos along the Las Vegas strip are close to each other, and well within walking distance.
  2. Make sure you check out the Neon Museum, an attraction that a lot of Vegas visitors don’t know about. It’s a great, mostly outdoor collection retired neon signs that used to brilliantly grace the front of iconic Vegas hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

About the Author:

John A. Daly is the author of Restitution (2022), and four other published novels in his Sean Coleman Thriller series: From a Dead Sleep (2013), Blood Trade (2015), Broken Slate (2017), and Safeguard (2019).

John is a former software developer who lives in Greeley, Colorado with his wife and kids. You can connect with the author via his website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 

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