Dark End of the Street
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Jazz historian and wannabe PI Nick Travers comes to the aid of a young woman in trouble and gets in a lot more as a result in this lively caper involving the Dixie Mafia, a decades-old murder, political skullduggery, and a hit man who thinks he's Elvis's younger brother. A strong narrative and excellent sense of place pervades the newest outing in this good--and getting better--series, but what matters almost as much is the music both the author and his hero love, which reveals itself in the nicely cadenced prose and a plot featuring the old Delta blues men Atkins admiringly portrays. It all makes for an enjoyable evening of reading that would have been even better if they'd shipped a CD of the music Nick and his creator like best along with it. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
As a follow-up to the well-received Crossroad Blues, Atkins offers another fast-paced, hot and heavy Southern suspense yarn that only occasionally defies credibility. Nick Travers, a former professional football star who now teaches blues history at Tulane University, is approached by an old friend who wants him to locate her brother, Clyde James, a once famous blues singer who hasn't been seen for some 25 years and may be dead. In a seemingly unrelated event, a young woman visits the home of her parents who were murdered a few weeks before, collects some papers from a hidden safe, then is accosted by two thugs who take her to a Mafia-owned casino and try to force information from her that she doesn't have. Travers happens to be at the casino seeking word of Clyde James and spots the trussed-up woman on a TV monitor. He rescues her, killing a man in the process, and the two go on the run. The action doesn't let up, moving between Memphis and New Orleans as a plethora of Dixie mobsters, hit men, Klan-like Sons of the South and unsavory gubernatorial candidates are stirred and shaken. Some of the characters border on caricature, especially two of the villains, a woman named Miss Perfect and an Elvis-look-alike hit man. The only other false notes in this otherwise sharply observed thriller come in the confusing finale, a not very believable sting operation.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
locales. The "detective" is a minor staffer at a major southern
university who is researching early blues performers, and one
of his friends and benefactors asks him to try to find her brother, who, a blues man himself, disappeared about 30 years
before. Since he has been gone so long, he is presumed dead,
but as Nick, the searcher, looks into that disappearance, he is
surprised, under unpleasant circumstances, to learn that others
are also looking for the same 30-year-missing man.
His search brings Nick into contact with other blues performers,
gamblers, politicians, and some unsavory characters in the employ of the "Dixie Mafia."
As the search goes deepr, and becomes more complex, the action
heats up, and the violence becomes more pronounced.
Rather puzzling, though, is Nick's love for the "Old South,"
which couldn't have been that good for many people, especially
the old-time musicians he listens to and admires, because of
racial segregation, but he conforts himself with thoughts and
visions of the "Old South," while he continues his search for
the present missing brother.
His search uncovers many unpleasant truths about both the past
and the present, and he is only able to keep alive due to luck
and the "help of a few friends."
The reader will be engaged by the need to follow 30 years of
southern social and music history, while Nick fights some of
the nastiest psychopaths in print today.
Author Ace Atkins writes convincingly of an American south where the old and new rest uneasily with one another, where race relations are personal, and where dreams of the confederacy still motivate men to arm and train. Atkin's characterization is rich and full. In addition to Nick, the sociopathic Perfect Leigh and Jesse Garon are especially well drawn and fascinating. The rich background of the blues, of southern cooking, of friendship, and of the quiet desperation that marks so many lives makes DARK END OF THE STREET feel terribly authentic.
There is a lot going on in this novel--as Nick slams from trouble to trouble, barely ahead of a bullet. At times, the plotting can get a little confused. At other times, Nick's plots might be a little too cute. Still, Atkins's strong writing can make even the most unlikely plot turns feel natural. Watch out because DARK END can grab you by the throat and kick you in the rear.
Ace Atkins is one of the authors who is part of the more recent wave of novelists whose fictional creations walk the grid of the Vieux Carre. DARK END OF THE STREET, Atkins third novel featuring Nick Travers, finds Atkins still in search of his own voice, still caught somewhere between the absurd but biting commentary of Carl Hiaasen and the darkness of James Lee Burke. The occasional geographical errors --- if one turns north from Conti onto Decatur, one is going down river, not upriver, toward Jackson Square; and the French Quarter Tipitina's was on North Peters, not Decatur, and south of Conti --- are minor but unnecessary distractions, as are the gratuitous political potshots which both Atkins and the reader would be better off without. Atkins' characters remain lively and interesting, and his descriptions of Quarter haunts such as Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop are dead-on.
DARK END OF THE STREET finds Travers, a former professional football player and current music history professor, attempting to assist Loretta Jackson, one of his best friends, locate her brother, Clyde James. James, a legendary soul singer from Memphis, seemed in the 1960s to be on the threshold of a brilliant career when his wife and best friend were murdered.Read more ›
Speaking as a northener who's never been south of Washington DC,
I usually go along with this conceit while barely concealing an indulgent smile.
Ace Atkins new book, DARK END OF THE STREET has snapped the smile off my face. You know what? Southerners ARE more colorful.
At least in the world Atkins has illuminated. Guided by his shining prose and dead on deadpan delivery, we enter.
Wetting our toes, oh so carefully, in Mississippi mud.
Atkins' creation is Nick Travers, a professor at Tulane who spends an inordinate amount of time 'recording oral histories or hunting information on long-lost or dead musicians......crisscrossing the Delta or Chicago or parts of Texas searching for hundred-year-old-birth certificates or trying to find folks who'd rather stay hidden.'
As Travers says, "I was what you'd call a blues tracker."
An intriguing profession for an intriguing character.
Here, in a book I understand is deeper and darker than his previous two Nick Travers outings, Atkins takes us on a moody
journey through the troubled past of one of the those long-lost souls, blues singer Clyde James.
As a favor to James' sister Loretta, a woman to whom Travers is emotionally in debt, he sets off to dig up the buried past.
Unfortunately, he isn't the only one digging.
Along for the ride are a pill popping hired killer with delusions of Elvis grandeur. A beautiful chameleon of a con artist with a murderous heart.
A young girl searching for her parents killers. A good old boy crime boss with no conscience and no scruples.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It is hard to believe that an investigative reporter that had done much real life investigating could picture a bailbondsman/bounty hunter as a co-hero rather than a real (low)... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2003 by William F. Mckee
I agree with Elmore Leonard, who, on the jacket of DARK END OF THE STREET, says that Ace Atkins is an ace of a writer. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2002
...Nick Travers is a BLUES historian, not jazz. They are definitely not the same thing, unless you think Miles Davis sounds like Robert Johnson. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2002 by Julia