Last Call

Last Call

by Tim Powers

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Overview

In Last Call, the Locus Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winner by Tim Powers, ex-professional gambler Scott Crane hasn't returned to Las Vegas, or held a hand of cards, in ten years. But nightmares about a strange poker game he once attended—a contest he believed he walked away from a big winner—are drawing him back to the magical city.. because the mythic game did not end that night in 1969. And the price of his winnings was his soul.

This edition of Last Call includes a special P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062233271
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/19/2013
Series: Fault Lines Series , #1
Pages: 535
Sales rank: 602,221
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 7.94(h) x 1.36(d)

About the Author

Tim Powers is the author of numerous novels including Hide Me Among the Graves, Three Days to Never, Declare, Last Call, and On Stranger Tides, which inspired the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award twice, and the World Fantasy Award three times. He lives in San Bernardino, California.

Read an Excerpt

Last Call

Chapter One

"I'll Still Have You, Sonny Boy"

Georges Leon held his, little boy's hand too tightly and stared up from under hishatbrim at the unnaturally dark noon sky.

He knew that out over the desert, visible to any motorists along the lonelier stretches of Boulder Highway, the rain would be twisting in -tall, tagged funnels under the clouds; already some flooding had probably crept across the two lanes of Highway 91, islanding the Flamingo Hotel outside town. And on the other side of the earth, under his feet, was the full moon.

The Moon and the Fool, he thought desperately. Not goodbut I can't stop now.

A dog was barking a block or two away, in one of these alleys or parking lots. In spite of himself, Leon thought about the dog that appeared on the Fool card in the Tarot deck and the dogs that in Greek mythology accompanied Artemis, the goddess of the moon. And of course, the picture on the Moon card generally showed rain falling. He wished he were allowed to get drunk.

"We'd better be heading for home, Scotty," he told the boy, keeping the urgency out of his voice only with some effort. Get this done, he thought.

Palm fronds rattled overhead and threw big drops down onto the pavement.

"Home'" protested Scotty. "No, you said -- "

Guilt made Leon gruff. "You got a fancy breakfast and lunch, and you've got a pocketful of punched chips and flattened pennies." They took a, few more steps along the puddled pavement toward Center Street, where they'd be turning right toward the bungalow. The wet street smelled like dry white wine. "I'll tell you what, though," he said,despising himself for making an empty promise, "tonight after dinner this storm will have cleared up, and we can drive out of town with the telescope and look at the stars."

The boy sighed. "Okay," he said, trotting along to keep up with his father, his free hand rattling the defaced chips and pennies in his pocket. "But it's gonna be a full moon. That'll wash everything else out, won't it'"

God, shut up, Leon thought. "No," he said, as though the universe might be listening and might do what he said. "No, it won't change a thing."

Leon had wanted an excuse to stop by the Flamingo Hotel, seven miles outside of town on 91, so he had taken Scott there for breakfast.

The Flamingo was a wide three-story hotel with a fourthfloor penthouse, incongruously green against the tan desert that surrounded it. Palm trees had been trucked in to stand around the building, and this morning the sun had been glaring down from a clear sky, giving the vivid green lawn a look of defiance.

Leon had let a valet park the car, and he and Scott had walked hand in hand along the strip of pavement to the front steps that led up to the casino door.

I Below the steps on the left side, behind a bush, Leon had long ago punched a hole in the stucco and scratched some symbols around it; this morning he crouched at the foot of the steps to tie his shoe, and he took a package from his coat pocket and leaned forward and pitched it into the hole.

"Another thing that might hurt you, Daddy'" Scott asked in a whisper. The boy was peering over his shoulder at the crude rayed suns and stick figures that grooved the stucco and flaked the green paint.

Leon stood up. He stared down at his son, wondering why he had ever confided this to the boy. Not that it mattered now.

"Right, Scotto," he said. "And what is it'"

"Our secret."

"Right again. You hungry'"

"As a bedbug." This had somehow become one of their bits of standard dialogue.

"Let's go."

The desert sun had been shining in through the windows, glittering off the little copper skillets the fried eggs and kippered herrings were served in. The breakfast had been "on the house," even though they weren't guests, because Leon was known to have been a business associate of Ben Siegel, the founder. Already the waitresses felt free to refer openly to the man as "Bugsy" Siegel.

That had been the first thing that had made Leon uneasy, eating at the expense of that particular dead man.

Scotty had had a good time, though, sipping a cherry-topped Coca-Cola from an Old Fashioned glass and squinting around the room with a worldly air.

"This is your place now, huh, Dad." he'd said as they were leaving through the circular room that was the casino.

Cards were -turning over crisply, and dice were rolling with a muffled rattle across the green felt, but Leon didn't look at any of the random suits and numbers that were defining. the moment.

None of the dealers or croupiers seemed to have heard the boy. "You don't --" Leon began.

"I know," Scotty had said in quick shame, "you don't talk about important stuff in front of the cards."

They left through the door that faced the 91, and had to wait for the car to be brought around from the other sidethe side where the one window on the penthouse level made the building look like a one-eyed face gazing out across the desert.

The Emperor card, Leon thought now as he tugged Scotty along the rain-darkened Center Street sidewalk; why am I not getting any signs -from it' The old man in profile, sitting on a throne with his legs crossed because of some injury. That has been my card for a year now. I can prove it by Richard, my oldest son -- and soon enough I'll be able to prove it by Scotty here.

Against his. will he wondered what sort of, person Scotty would have grown up to be if this weren't going to happen.

Last Call. Copyright © by Tim Powers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Tom Robbins

“A novel of the supernatural and occult that is hard boiled, seamy and suspenseful as the best film noir.”

Raymond E. Feist

“Brilliant! Compelling and satisfying! Tim Powers is one of our best writers, and LAST CALL is his best book yet.”

Dean Koontz

Dazzling . . . a tour de force, a brilliant blend of John le Carre spy fiction with the otherworldly.

William Gibson

Tim Powers is a brilliant writer. Declare’s occult subtext for the deeper Cold War is wonderfully original and brilliantly imagined.

Customer Reviews

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Last Call 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in the story are very well developed, several very normal villians and protagonists, moving through fantastic plots in a very exciting flow. Mr. Powers has done his research. The back story on Tarot cards and the creative license on the early days of Las Vegas makes this tale oddly educational, although I'm not sure where the line between fiction and fact lies... Well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever since reading Tim Powers' book, The Anubis Gates, I have been waiting for Powers to write another up to the high standard he had established with that work. His intervening novels, The Stress of Her Regard, On Stranger Tides, have been, frankly, disappointing. With Last Call Powers finally meets the standard he established with the earlier book. The novel is unique, vast in scope and adventuresome. I rank it only a hair below The Anubis Gates.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tim powell is one of the great under appreciated writerd of our times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love any Tim Powers book and this is one of the best. His weaving of myth and magic and quirky characters and everything in between is masterful. One of the most inventive and talented writers out there.
delphica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Urban fantasy, set in Las Vegas, where a grittier, American-style version of the Fisher King legend is playing out, driven by the mechanisms of the tarot, which of course is being fueled by the amount of card play going on at any given moment. The whole thing is framed as a poker game, but I confess that I'm bad enough at following normal poker and thus didn't try very hard to parse out the mystical poker so I can't speak to how convincing that aspect is.This is the kind of fantasy book where a goodly number of the characters start off with complete knowledge of all the magic and the rules and have a good grasp of what's going on right out of the gate. I always find something slightly unsatisfying about this, as a fairly pragmatic person myself, it always helps when characters need to be convinced so that I can be convinced by proxy.Lately I've been finding that books written in the early 90s make the oddest impression on me because they seem both modern, and at the same time, positively in the Dark Ages because they're just a little before that technology crest that brought the internet and cell phones to the masses.Grade: BRecommended: This reminded me of things like American Gods and even a little of The Stand (but you know, shorter), and I think it has a similar appeal.
kd9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are some classic science fiction and fantasy novels that don't hold up when when you read them years later. This is not one of them. Now that I have lived in Las Vegas for four years, the book is actually better since I know the places that are described here. In one sense this novel is the oft told tale of the Fisher King. The old King fails and grows weaker, but tries for one more session on the throne he has stolen from his predecessor. But there are Jacks, possible kings in the making, just waiting for the King to make a mistake and take over the throne themselves. What makes this novel different and deeper is the solid reality of this magical story. The magic is a mixture of cigarette smoke, chaos theory, unlevel glasses, Tarot decks, body substitutions, and the Moon Goddess. Many of the tropes in Tim Powers more recent books are seen here; the Secret History, the power of alcohol and tobacco, the fringes of society that control primal forces. What makes it compelling are the characters of the old King, his son Scott Crane, Scott's foster father, Ozzie, and Scott's adopted sister, Diana.If you only read one Tim Powers book, read this one.
icarusgeoff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of [author: Tim Powers]. He has this strange ability to take bizarre and disparate elements and weave them together into a cohesive and engaging story. This particular example of his work involves (among other things) poker, chaos theory, Jungian archetypes, Tarot, and The Fisher King. These things seem to have little or no relation to each other, but it all works, and it does so brilliantly. The best thing he's written, in my opinion.
tanenbaum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the book that I give friends when I want them to be exposed to Tim Powers, and it hasn't failed me yet. Like most of Powers' work, it posits a "secret" or alternate version of the world, one where poker cards can determine your fate and a Las Vegas mobster can be the Fisher King. But it's also a narrative about family-the wounds of childhood (emotional and physical), the trials of love, and ways the past can haunt you. With compelling and rich characters, an engrossing and intricate mythology, and a fast-paced plot, this is one of my favorite books, re-read regularly.
PamelaDLloyd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It had been many years since I read this book, so all I really remembered going in was that it involved poker, superstitions, and California. Of course, as this is a book by Tim Powers, it was far more complex than that. I love Powers' ability to weave seemingly diverse concepts into a whole, and the way his stories make sense, if one can only bend one's mind into a pretzel. I also love the many literary references, although I'm sure I caught only the top of the iceberg.This book was crazy, wild, anxiety producing, and a whole lot of fun. Go read it.
SaintBrevity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Exquisite book by Tim Powers that blends together the Tarot, poker, semi-ancient mythology, and Las Vegas in ways that I thought not possible. Highly recommended, and especially recommended for those who think that fantasy is all pointy ears and chainmail bikinis.
pgmcc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first in a series of three books, the others being, "Expiration Date" and "Earthquake Weather". I don't know where the second and third books go, but I will get around to them eventually."Last Call" was entertaining and intriguing enough to keep me interested to the end. It involves poker playing and a magical power struggle that takes place in the contemporary (as of when it was written-1992) world of Las Vegas.Powers created good characters, put them in realistic emotional situations, and portrayed their actions well in those situations, albeit with a backdrop of magical kings, queens and godesses.Much play was made of the magical powers of chance and the concentration of the related forces in Las Vegas where chance is the focus of the towns existence.Apart from the magic and supernatural activities, "Last Call" is an action thriller with poker playing. A bit like Gandalf meets the Cincinati Kid.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books ever. A fantastic exploration of the Aurthurian myth translated into modern times, but no knowledge of Arthur required to love and appreciate this work.
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is by far the worst Tim Powers I have read. It is Powers, so there are vivid, hard to forget moments (the skinny man trying to get out, the inner dialog of Al Funo, etc). Alas, it is overall something of a mess. 1.15.07
LastCall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorites and Powers best. There is so much going on in the book that it not only begs but demands to be re-read. One of the great all time fantasy novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flawed yet heroic characters seem to be Tim Powers' forte. Last Call has a boat load of interesting and weird folks involved in a very complex plot. Definitely not a "quick read". Tarot card history and early Vegas are woven into the plot exceptionally. Just a few moments of late plot development keep this from being 5 stars.
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Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Great for fans of Gaiman's American Gods.
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