He came to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and never left.

But when a game of high stakes poker turns into a boxing match, Massimo “Max” Rossi, the son of mob “fixer” Boston Rossi, winds up with more than he bargained for. All eyes turn to him when the police find his opponent, a hitman from Chicago, dead. And if that isn’t bad enough, his only alibi–the dead man’s girlfriend–is missing.

Now, if the cops don’t get him, the mob will!

Rossi is in the struggle of his life, where every turn brings him closer to an untimely end. He’s got to find the girlfriend before his time runs out. But in fledgling Las Vegas, time is an abstract concept, and people can hide almost anywhere. Rossi came to Vegas to escape his past, but his past came with him. Set in Las Vegas of the 1950s, Maximum Rossi takes the reader on a thrilling crime noir ride, reminiscent of tales penned by the likes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Rossi takes his place as a true hard-boiled detective. A man who doesn’t take no for an answer, and isn’t about to let himself get pushed around by anyone…especially a dame.

From the book:

She took a curtain in each hand and flung them open, holding her arms wide. It took her a moment to register what she was seeing. I suppose it would have taken anyone a moment. But when she did, she let out a scream. That’s when the shots began. Tony pushed the cart out of the way and ran to Tina. He should have run faster, but his legs seemed only able to move at a turtle’s pace.

He was yelling, but I couldn’t hear him. I think I might have been yelling too, but I couldn’t tell. As Tony leapt into the air toward Tina, I pulled my gun from its holster. It took minutes, or was it seconds, to get the thing in front of me and minutes more before I could pull the trigger. Tony had landed on top of Tina and glass was flying everywhere.

The man standing on the other side of what was left of the sliding glass door was holding something at his waist. Something that was spitting fire repeatedly. I tried to aim for the fire. I pulled the trigger over and over again until all I heard was clicking. But the fire was still coming. I tried to leap behind the sofa and that’s when someone touched flame to my shoulder. I fell hard on my back. I would have gotten up, but the room went black.

“To find a modern pastiche of the noir/hardboiled novels of the 40s and 50s this good is quite rare. This is a really decent homage to the age of Chandler and Hammett, and it’s a pleasure to read.”


“A wildly pleasurable and perfectly written gritty crime drama.”

Indies Today

“This is an excellent hard-boiled mystery: cleverly written, smoothly paced, and with a protagonist who’s compelling.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“A companionable mob tale, enjoyable unserious and dramatically immersive.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Paul W. Papa has not only thoroughly researched his subject, but weaves Vegas history and culture into the kind of hard-boiled mystery that is supercharged with the protagonist’s personality, choices, and observations. The result is a compelling probe into an investigator who only wants a different kind of life…but can’t get one.”
“Papa’s ability to capture this sense of place, time and purpose drives the story, keeping it fast-paced, realistic, and thoroughly involving. Fans of Dashiell Hammett and classic hard-boiled detective noir fiction will readily recognize all the trappings of the genre in this story’s approach and descriptive choices, but Papa’s ability to add the feisty, determined, gruff personality of Rossi into the bigger crime picture is what sets his story apart from many who delve into the hard-boiled mystery genre.”
“The cat-and-mouse games, revelations, intrigue, and gritty determination of a protagonist who only wants to leave the dangerous playing field, but can’t, creates a compelling, thoroughly engrossing noir mystery that’s hard to put down. Good character development, a fine sense of place and mystery, and Vegas gambling backdrops craft a story that sizzles.”

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review



When Meyer Lansky makes you an offer, how can you refuse? Even if it’s one you don’t want.

The Highwaymen, a group of grifters and conmen, have come to town and it is up to Massimo “Max” Rossi, the Sands Hotel and Casino’s newest house detective to stop them before they hit. But finding a group that specializes in hitting quick and getting out fast isn’t as easy as it sounds. And to top it off, Rossi is tasked with escorting a high roller’s gal pal around town; one that’s more trouble than she’s worth. Even if Rossi does find the Highwaymen and identify the leader, is he willing to help fill a hole in the desert?

Rossi is forced into a choice he doesn’t want to make!

Drawn into a world of sex and drugs, where every move could be his last, Rossi must navigate his way out before it’s too late. He’s got to find the head of the Highwaymen, then decide how to stop them without sacrificing his morals and convictions. If he can’t, there might just be two holes filled in the desert.

From the book:

I removed my lid and placed it on the small desk, then I hung my suit jacket on the hook by the closet, and turned on the table lamp. Lizzie emerged minutes later clothed in nothing but her undergarments. She slid over to me and wrapped her arms around my neck. Then she kissed me. It was a soft kiss. A kind kiss. An inviting kiss.

She pulled back and smiled.

I put my hands on her hips. They were nice hips, soft and curvy, just like hips ought to be. They were inviting me as well. Inviting me to do things I had no business doing with someone I had no business being with. But there she was, standing in front of me, fiddling with my tie, wearing next to nothing, with perfect red lips, staring into my eyes. I pulled her head to my chest and she hugged me tightly.


One Man’s Passion to Uncover the True Story Behind an Iconic American Photograph

On July 12, 1945 a golden palomino was caught in the Red Desert of Wyoming by Frank “Wild Horse” Robbins, who had built a business rounding up the wild mustangs that roamed the region, using airplanes to spot the elusive creatures. Later that same day a photographer out of Rawlins, Wyoming, named Verne Wood snapped a photo of that same horse that he would go on to enter in the Denver Post’s annual photo contest. The photo was the grand prize winner—and it also captured the imagination of people all over the world. Prints found their way to the Wyoming State Capital, the United States Senate chambers, the House of Commons in London, and the Canadian Parliament in Toronto. The likeness of the famous horse could be found in the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, the Double Shot Bar in Rock River, the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, the Desert Bar in Wamsutter, and the Saddle Grill Café in Rawlins where the restaurant built a Palomino Room in homage to the horse. On top of that, nearly every postcard sales rack from Omaha, Nebraska, to Reno, Nevada, offered postcards with the horse’s famous image in the late 1940s.

The horse, which would become known as Desert Dust, became the most famous horse in Wyoming. His image was reproduced on leather purses, wallets, and belts by inmates of the Wyoming State Penitentiary and other craftsman. Desert Dust was the inspiration for poems, prose, oil paintings, and songs, and a Hollywood short that was nominated for an Academy Award. Frank Robbins and Verne Wood would eventually find themselves on opposite sides of many different controversies: the plight of wild horses; using an airplane to capture wild horses, and of course, the ownership of the photo itself, which led to a feud between the two men on the order of the Hatfields and McCoys. Desert Dust would eventually be murdered in his own pasture—a mystery that is unsolved to this day.


Paul W. Papa is a full-time writer and ghostwriter who has lived in Las Vegas for more than thirty years. He developed a fascination with the area, and all its wonders while working for nearly fifteen years at several Las Vegas casinos. In his role as a security officer, Paul was the person who actually shut and locked the doors of the Sands Hotel and Casino for the final time. He eventually became a hotel investigator for a major Strip casino, during which time he developed a love for writing stories about uncommon events. When not at his keyboard, Paul can be found talking to tourists on Fremont Street, investigating some old building, or sitting in a local diner hunting down his next story.


Paul tries to answer all inquiries. By using the contact form, Paul W. Papa’s privacy policy is accepted.

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