The roll of the dice has different connotations and meaning for most everyone. A game of chance that can reflect gambling, a decision made that either brings you what you want or alternately makes life worse. It can be just that bit of luck, or maybe down on your luck, but it is really all about choices in the end.
In Roll of the Die by Sean P. Bridges, we meet a man who personifies choices. Riley made a number of choices in his life, often with unfortunate consequences. Robbery seemed easy until he was caught, but after spending time in prison, he felt the need to change his ways. After being released early, determined to make his way, he is introduced to a good friend’s sister. Carol is a woman he enjoys and he finds that she is more than willing to marry him. His life is good, so much better than what he expected. He now understands that his happiness should have been his first clue. Something had to happen, that was how his luck held.
It began with his friend, Carol’s brother needing his help. Joey was in hock and needed money for a gambling debt. He came up with an idea for a heist, and asked Riley for his help. Of course, Riley refused. He was done with that kind of life. When Joey apprised him of the fact that Carol would be in danger, Riley had no choice. He would not risk Carol. She meant more to him than he cared to admit, and he would do what it took to keep her safe.
As with all games of chance, something went dreadfully wrong, Joey is injured, and Riley is running for his life. As he heads to pick up Joey and try to make a semblance at controlling the fallout, he finds he is too late. Joey is dead in a most gruesome way, and he is being required to replace a contestant in a gruesome game of chance. If he survives, he will live and receive three million dollars. If he should lose, Carol will die as well.
This is a Vegas style game, the venue located in that very locale, and attended by the most jaded and wealthy of gamblers. It is just that one more step of depravity and excitement, a heart shattering, unimaginable game of chance. Played out once a year, this high stakes and macabre game of chance affords those willing to be involved in such a gamble to make serious money. The game, called triple six is a form of Russian roulette, a group of six contestants each get three rounds. At each round a bullet is chambered in a gun, the contestant rolls the dice, and the trigger is pulled for the number on the dice. A six would mean death as the pistol was a six shot, but any other roll gave the contestant a chance, with a one being the best chance. The winner left standing after three rounds would receive the three million dollar prize. In this particular game of chance, Riley was not a volunteer; he was a forced replacement due to the botched job with his friend. His own life and that of his wife Carol, hung in the balance.
Bridges has done a fascinating job of creating characters that hold your attention. Flawed in numerous ways, he gives them personalities that make you care about them. You are horrified at the death and depravity described in his rendition of events. The gamblers are cold and calculating, with a lack of feeling that raises the hair on the back of your neck. The in-depth and specific descriptions of the sequences are written with an eye to horror. You cannot help but feel the fear and sweat with the contestants as they each wait their turn. They have only each other, but is it enough? What will happen and who will win? If it is Ridley, will his wife still be alive?
Action packed and full of energy, Roll of the Die is a twisted and horror-filled story. It begins a bit slow but builds into a tense and fear filled ending that keep you reading. The suspense and action keep you on the edge of the seat, with a combination of awe for Ridley and a sense of horror at the game.
This book is not for the weak of heart and certainly carries language that in some cases would scald those who are easily offended. If you care for this genre of book, it is the top of the game and Bridges has written a winner. Be prepared for a wild ride, with action that will keep you going.