Publisher: Self Published
Released: April 9, 2020
More than a casino, Kilimanjaro is an icon, a tribute to a different time in Las Vegas. But times are changing and now Kilimanjaro is fighting for relevance as its aging owner pursues a smooth succession in the face of financial trouble.
Looking for an edge, the casino hires Jojo Black as its in-house psychiatrist, hoping he can profile big gamblers and tilt the tables in Kilimanjaro's favor. But Jojo has his mind on other things including his girlfriend, a gambling addiction, and a scheme to game the Super Bowl.
Sibling rivalry, shifting alliances, loan sharks, and sports gambling clash in this race to secure the legacy that is Kilimanjaro.
Disclaimer: I got this book through Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair review, and I promise that my review is fair and honest one.
There’s something fascinating, fun, and almost voyeuristic about reading books set behind the curtain of secrecy-filled environments most of us will never get to know. Kilimanjaro takes the reader behind the scenes of a glitzy Las Vegas casino which, despite having a long and proud tradition, is struggling on several fronts.
Jojo, a psychiatrist, is our ticket into this particular nook of Las Vegas intrigue. He’s easy going and likeable, and accepts a job in the casino more or less as a way of getting out of trouble. For the first third of the book you’d be forgiven for thinking that the scene is set for a reality-show style “this is what really goes on at a casino”-collection of incidents from Jojo’s point of view, but the book quickly turns from being about Jojo, into being about something bigger: the fate of Kilimanjaro itself, and the lives of the people who own it.
Subtlety is in short supply in Kilimanjaro, where almost everything is turned up to eleven. The pedal-to-the-metal style could easily have become annoying, but here it works well and feels wholly appropriate for a story set in a world of careless gambling, rampant drug-use, and a very relaxed attitude to fidelity. The characters are not developed much, if at all, but they serve exactly the purpose they need to serve by moving this fast-paced story along at the speed it demands. Rather than shying away from cliches, Kilimanjaro leans into them, giving us a story which reads like a larger-than-life caricature much of the time, but occasionally, and abruptly, dips into a complex and intriguing family drama. The chapters are very short, and each one of them is a burst of action propelling several escalating storylines toward an inevitable climax which joins them all together. The book moves seamlessly from the action-packed, irreverent, and almost absurd at one moment, into dark personal drama the next. Whereas the changes in tone could easily have been jarring, the writing feels real and grounded, keeping the atmosphere and tone consistent throughout storylines which branch out in many directions. The result is hard to define, but it’s undeniably entertaining.
I would easily recommend this book. It’s pleasingly complex without becoming difficult to follow, making for an entertaining romp through an interesting story. If you’re up for a light, fun, quick, thriller, Kilimanjaro is a safe bet.