Prince of Sin City is the long-awaited historically based novel by local literature professor, writer, musician and poet Gary Walton.
Set largely in the gambling heyday of Newport, the book provides an engaging view into the area’s mysterious, sometimes seedy past. Dennis Prince is the somewhat reluctant, middle-aged, down-on-his-luck journalist who accidentally stumbles into the shallow grave of local intrigue, shady political networking, drugs, guns, explosives and murder. Through information garnered in a long-lost (and much sought) manuscript, he and his unlikely group of impromptu investigators (including the semiretired professional wrestler Big Dick Hubris) scour the city searching for the answers that will explain how the past has suddenly invaded their present. If they’re lucky, this information might even keep them alive by the end of this long, crazy, unexpected night.
Peppered with actual magazine snippets, photos and commentaries of the time, Prince of Sin City provides a glimpse into the historical, somewhat hidden past of Newport. Contemporary locals might not realize that once upon a time Newport was viewed with much the same combination of excitement, fear and awe with which we currently hold Las Vegas. Travelers from the north might have stopped in to indulge their “adult-oriented” natures while on their way to a family trip in Florida, or that train commuters might have planned an extra night’s stopover when they pulled into Union Terminal just to sample the taboo offerings of the brothels and casinos of Newport.
This tongue-in-cheek detective novel is humorous, fast-paced, semi-ironic and engaging. Prince of Sin City not only provides an entertaining story but also a connection to a local history no one would have dared to teach us in elementary school. (Walton will discuss his book at the Kenton Co. Library 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and at the Newport Public Library 7 p.m. Oct. 22.) Grade: B