"Bet On Beers: A Gamble with Death" by P.M. LaRose, Forty Press, paperback

Sportswriter-turned-department-store-chain-security head Jim Biersovich — Beers to his friends — returns for a second adventure in Baton Rouge author P.M. LaRose's "Bet on Beers: A Gamble with Death."

This time around, Beers is fresh off cracking a store sabotage caper and surviving Y2K. He flees the Minnesota winter of 2000 for Las Vegas and a case involving the theft of a jade bathtub and jewelry from a casino store. He's once again aided by his own version of the Scooby gang, which includes a Yat named Lena, IT expert and jewelry department sales clerk; and Freddie, his oldest friend from the Twin Cities and inveterate "hatcher of lamebrain ideas."

Beers uses their help and his usual investigatory approach, equal parts perception and blundering, to wade through a mess involving mob rivalries, casino high jinks, scams, magic and violence. LaRose's second effort is smoother, his writing resembles a breezier version of hard-boiled mysteries.

"Vegas. Fun, I thought. Not many get seriously injured. Just like the playgrounds of my youth. Wrong. This playground could be deadly. 

"As it turned out, I was lucky to get out with the shirt on my back. A shirt without bullet holes."

Bullet holes or not, the follow-up to "First Case of Beers" is worth a shot.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.