Beneath the Neon


The catacombs of ancient Rome served as houses of worship for Jews and Christians. When surveyed in the early 1800s, the sewers of Paris yielded gold, jewels and relics of the revolution. And thousands of people lived in the subway and train tunnels of New York City in the 1980s and ’90s.

What secrets do the Las Vegas storm drains keep? What discoveries wait in the dark? What’s beneath the neon?

Armed with a flashlight, tape recorder and expandable baton for protection, writer and editor Matthew O’Brien sought to answer these questions. Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas chronicles his adventures in this uncharted underworld. He follows the footsteps of a psycho killer. He two-steps under the MGM Grand at 3 in the morning. He chases the ghosts of Benny Binion, Bugsy Siegel, Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes. He learns how to make meth, that art is most beautiful where it’s least expected and that there are no pots of gold under the neon rainbow.


“Continually contrasting the sparkling casinos above with the dank, cobwebbed catacombs below, the observant O’Brien writes with a noirish flair, but his compassion is also evident as he illuminates the lives of these shadowy subterranean dwellers.” Publishers Weekly

“This book is an aesthetic experience because of the way it’s told. It’s somewhere between journalism and poetry and brings to mind Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson wrote with this very idiosyncratic and personal language about Vegas and this book, by paying tribute to Thompson, [is] more than a documentary, but also a beautiful object.” France 24

“The Huntington Press title is the freshest approach on the Vegas idea in a long time.” Las Vegas Review-Journal

“Through his exquisite reporting, O’Brien paints a starkly different portrait of the city than the one you get while playing the $25 table at the Bellagio.”

Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas is nothing short of fascinating: O’Brien captures the fragile and often heartbreaking stories of people who would like nothing more than to not stay in Vegas, to be taken somewhere else completely. The lucky may get that wish; the unlucky may find themselves washed away, literally, by monsoon-driven surges of desert flood water.” E! Online

“From retracing a murderer’s escape route and learning how to make meth from a tunnel dweller to partying with naked crackheads and dancing under the MGM Grand, this photo-filled account proves that the only place more surreal than the Vegas Strip is beneath it.” Wired

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