A book by Tim Powers
, and The Fisher King
. The book is based on the premise is that Bugsy Siegel
founded Las Vegas
in an attempt to gain great personal power and health by tying himself to the Waste Land
of the Nevada desert and making it fertile again.
His throne is toppled by another gambling man who then bears an heir -- who goes missing, presumed dead. Years later, though, Scott Crane is still alive, though he just lost his wife (who he still sees now and again around his house), finds himself drawn back into the holy game of poker, and soon finds himself in a battle for succession of the Fisher King's throne against many opponants, the greatest of which is something that used to be his father.
Tim Powers is a master of blending fact and fiction to create completely believable and yet utterly unreal worlds, the sort of fantasies that you wouldn't be at all surprised were the true nature of the universe. This work is no exception; indeed, it might be the finest example of his ability. The book has wonderful characters who are unique, despite the fact that many of them are, quite literally, archetypes.
Last Call spawned a half-sequel, Earthquake Weather -- half sequel because Earthquake Weather is sequel to both Last Call and Expiration Date.