This book didn’t take long to read. It is 219 pages long, with large text and a lot of white space. I read it for the Sin City Bookers Book Group. I am not sure how much of a discussion we will get out of this, because it was such a speedy read. Our organizer suggested that we also read the comments from family members about this book on Amazon. I saved that until the end. It seems that many of the stories in this book are questionable.
The story is of Wendy, who was raised in Las Vegas and ran away from home at the age fifteen or so during the ’70s. Her upbringing was not perfect, but it certainly is not the worst I have heard of. She became the girlfriend (for want of a better word) of Teddy Binion, son of Benny Binion, big-time Vegas casino owner at the time. He bought her some nice clothes and treated her well enough for a while, then suddenly shipped her off to Texas to be a prostitute for a little while, completely against her will, and with seemingly no explanation. Of course this is completely terrible, but unfortunately a story of a young girl being forced into the sex trade is hardly unique. She manages to escape, returns to Las Vegas, and goes back to him, again, with seemingly no explanation. Soon, her family rescues her, takes her to their safe home, enrolls her in college, and she goes back to the casino scene, again, with seemingly no explanation. Here she meets Tom Hanley, Vegas hitman and mobster, she marries him (possibly) and that is when the fun begins.
Perhaps it is such a quick read because of the complete lack of insight into quite what motivates Wendy to do what she does. Wendy does all this before she turns eighteen, an age when many of us do not really know our own mind. The rest of the book is about the murders and law-breaking that Tom and his colleagues may or may not have done. They did not tell Wendy about what they were doing, she saw a few clues here and there but nothing concrete. It is not really the story of Wendy, she is the by-stander to their story.
The blurb on the back cover says “Las Vegas is accustomed to colourful characters with pasts… but Wendy Hanley’s story… stands out in the crowd.” I agree with the first part of that statement, but not the second part. Vegas is full of stories of murder, corruption, sex, drugs, organised crime, you name it. But Wendy was just a daft young girl who happened to be around some of the people who were doing it. She was not involved. She was not responsible. She is not even unusual. Lots of women were (and still are) employed as prostitutes and hangers-on to massage the egos of these men and to show them a good time in Vegas. I found myself flicking through the pages thinking “so what?” I read non-fiction to learn something, and I do not feel like I learnt very much here.
So, I saved reading the family’s comments on Amazon until I had finished the book, and according to them, most of this is fabrication and lies anyway. Whether it is or it isn’t, I would not recommend this book, there is just nothing there.