Daniel Fierman
February 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Swain is touted — by his editors, mostly — as the next great populist read. Judging by the folks I’ve spotted with his books, it’s an opinion shared by a lot of people. Not to be the arsenic in the cookie, but I just don’t get it. Mr. Lucky has a solid premise: PI Tony Valentine investigates a man who takes home $1 million from a Las Vegas casino without losing a game. Too bad it’s all downhill from there. Sloppily written and boasting a groaner of a plot — it takes 300-plus pages for Valentine to figure out what any astute mystery reader knows by page 90 — the book reads fast, but not fun.

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