The plan is simple. A favor really. All Nick Travers, a former professional football player turned professor, has to do is drive up Highway 61 from New Orleans to Memphis and track down the lost brother of one of his best friends. But as Travers knows, these simple jobs seldom turn out smoothly.
His friend’s brother is Clyde James, who, in 1968, was one of the finest soul singers Memphis had to offer. But when James’s wife and close friend were murdered, his life was shattered. He turned to the streets, where, decades ago, he disappeared.
Travers’s search for the singer soon leads him to the casinos in Tunica, Mississippi, and converges with the agenda of the Dixie Mafia, a zealot gubernatorial candidate linked to a neo-Confederacy movement, and an obsessed killer who thinks he has a true spiritual link to the late Elvis Presley.
In 1955, Look magazine called Phenix City, Alabama, “The Wickedest City in America,” but even that may have been an understatement. It was a stew of organized crime and corruption, run by a machine that dealt with complaints forcefully and with dispatch. No one dared cross them – no one even tried. And then the machine killed the wrong man.
When crime – fighting attorney Albert Patterson is gunned down in a Phenix City alley in the spring of 1954, the entire town seems to pause just for a moment – and when it starts up again, there is something different about it. A small group of men meet and decide that they have had enough, but what that means and where it will take them is something they could not have foreseen. Over the course of the next several months, lives will change, people will die, and unexpected heroes will emerge – like “a Randolph Scott western,” one of them remarks, “played out not with horses and Winchesters but with Chevys and.38s and switchblades.”
Peopled by an extraordinary cast of characters, both real and fictional, Wicked City is a novel of uncommon intensity – rich with atmosphere and filled with sensuality and surprise.
From the critically acclaimed, award-nominated author comes a new noir crime classic about one of the most notorious trials in American history.
Critics called Ace Atkins's Wicked City 'gripping, superb' (Library Journal), 'stunning' (The Tampa Tribune), 'terrific' (Associated Press), 'riveting' (Kirkus Reviews), 'wicked good' (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), and 'Atkins' best novel' (The Washington Post). But Devil's Garden is something else again.
San Francisco, September 1921: Silent-screen comedy star Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle is throwing a wild party in his suite at the St. Francis Hotel: girls, jazz, bootleg hooch… and a dead actress named Virginia Rappe. The D.A. says it was Arbuckle who killed her – crushing her under his weight – and brings him up on manslaughter charges. William Randolph Hearst's newspapers stir up the public and demand a guilty verdict. But what really happened? Why do so many people at the party seem to have stories that conflict? Why is the prosecution hiding witnesses? Why are there body parts missing from the autopsied corpse? Why is Hearst so determined to see Fatty Arbuckle convicted?
In desperation, Arbuckle's defense team hires a Pinkerton agent to do an investigation of his own and, they hope, discover the truth. The agent's name is Dashiell Hammett, and he's the book's narrator. What he discovers will change American legal history – and his own life – forever.
'The historical accuracy isn't what elevates Atkins' prose to greatness,' said The Tampa Tribune. 'It's his ability to let these characters breathe in a way that few authors could ever imagine. He doesn't so much write them as unleash them upon the page.' You will not soon forget the extraordinary characters and events in Devil's Garden.
From "one of the best crime writers at work today" (Michael Connelly) comes a fast,f unny, violent new noir crime classic-a Coen Brothers movie come to life.
He has been compared to Lehane, Ellroy, and Pelecanos, but Ace Atkins's rich, raucous, passionate blend of historical novel and crime story is all his own and never more so than in Infamous.
In July 1933, the gangster known as George "Machine Gun" Kelly staged the kidnapping-for-ransom of an Oklahoma oilman. He would live to regret it. Kelly was never the sharpest knife in the drawer, and what started clean soon became messy, as two of his partners cut themselves into the action; a determined former Texas Ranger makes tracking Kelly his mission; and Kelly's wife, ever alert to her own self-interest, starts playing both ends against the middle.
The result is a mesmerizing tale set in the first days of the modern FBI, featuring one of the best femmes fatales in history-the Lady Macbeth of Depression-era crime-a great unexpected hero, and some of the most colorful supporting characters in recent crime fiction.