REVIEW: The Princess of Las Vegas by Chris Bohjalian

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THE PRINCESS IS FAKE. THE MURDERS ARE REAL • From the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness, a Princess Diana impersonator and her estranged sister find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of money and murder in this twisting tale of organized crime, cryptocurrency, and family secrets on the Las Vegas strip.

Crissy Dowling has created a world that suits her perfectly. She passes her days by the pool in a private cabana, she splurges on ice cream but never gains an ounce, and each evening she transforms into a Princess, performing her musical cabaret inspired by the life of the late Diana Spencer. Some might find her strange or even delusional, an American speaking with a British accent, hair feathered into a style thirty years old, living and working in a casino that has become a dated trash heap. On top of that, Crissy’s daily diet of Adderall and Valium leaves her more than a little tipsy, her Senator boyfriend has gone back to his wife, and her entire career rests on resembling a dead woman.

And yet, fans see her for the gifted chameleon she is, showering her with gifts, letters, and standing ovations night after night. But when Crissy’s sister, Betsy, arrives in town with a new boyfriend and a teenage daughter, and when Richie Morley, the owner of the Buckingham Palace Casino, is savagely murdered, Crissy’s carefully constructed kingdom comes crashing down all around her. A riveting tale of identity, obsession, fintech, and high-tech mobsters, The Princess of Las Vegas is an addictive, wildly original thriller from one of our most extraordinary storytellers.

CW/TW – honestly, if you have something that will trigger you, this book might have it. Suicide/murder, sexual abuse, violence, PTSD from mass shootings, drug/alcohol abuse, eating disorder

Dear Mr. Bohjalian,

I guess Diana, or her sorta image, does still sell just about everything. I know both the cover and the title grabbed my attention and made me look deeper into what the book is about. I enjoyed a previous book of yours, “Skeletons at the Feast” so I crossed my fingers and dove into this one.

For a book mainly set in sunshiney Las Vegas, this one has a whole lot of dark shadows and darker people. Honestly I think only one character didn’t make me either snarl, sigh in disgust, want to throw my hands up, mentally mutter “really? really??” or some variant of “I’m not pleased with this person.” Nobody gets away with being a totally good person except for Nigel and even something he does might annoy people. Everyone else?      Sigh.

The book starts off with a bang but then slows down a lot in order for all the (many) characters to be introduced and pertinent information about them to be revealed. Wait, sort of revealed as there are obviously lots and lots of secrets and I don’t just mean who is willing to shoot, kick, slug, or threaten people at the drop of a hat. I guessed a few of the issues that are festering between Crissy and her almost look alike sister Betsy and that haunt them both years to decades after they occurred. Some of these will be triggers but I think readers might be able to see the reveals approaching. There’s also a lot of time spent on cryptocurrency and a fair amount of disbelief is needed about some plot points and actions. 

Things pick up as all the pieces and threads begin to fit and weave together. The action is tighter and the pace increases. But the wheels also start leaving the ground a bit as the plot swerves around corners at full throttle. And yet as things got worse, I had to know what was going to happen next. How were the (relatively) good guys going to get out of this alive? Some clues had been sprinkled along the way but in sort of an obvious way, too. Everything does come together and yet I was left with a few worries – we are talking about ruthless people – and a feeling of slightly unrealistic happiness and unresolved issues. Maybe as Crissy is redoing her show now that (the real) Charles is King, she can work in some therapy sessions. B-       


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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