Dark End of the Street
Ace Atkins
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Buy *Dark End of the Street* online

Dark End of the Street
Ace Atkins
416 pages
December 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The murder-suspense tale Dark End of the Street is a tale of suspense and murder includes a thrilling plotline that starts off quirky and ends with a leap that takes your breath away.

Colorful characters enliven this tale of a manís search for his best friendís brother. Nick Travers is the man doing the searching, and itís up to him to find Clyde James Ė a famous soul singer from 1960ís Memphis who dropped off the face of the earth when, in 1968, his wife and friend were found murdered.

Nickís search takes him from the depths of New Orleans to the streets of Memphis. It's a trail following the Mississippi and punctuated by a variety of pitstops along the way, each offering brief detours into the culture, attitudes and lives of the eclectic bunch of characters who make Nickís search easier or more difficult -- mostly the latter.

Nick weaves his way in and out of casinos and finds himself dealing with the southern version of the Mafia and a political hopeful with tie-ins to a new Confederacy movement. This is one of the oddest groups of villains and wacky characters to grace the pages of a mystery novel in years, culminating in a character who thinks he shares a very special link with the King himself. Yes, Elvis.

Author Ace Atkins kids you not. His daring characterizations are only secondary to his great plotline, which masterfully blends every pertinent bit of information seamlessly into his tale. Most extraordinary about Atkinsí gritty, enthralling novel is his use of the first-person point of view to tell it. Readers donít get much of that style anymore, sadly enough, but Atkins pulls it off with a flourish. His style is reminiscent of the early crime fiction of Raymond Chandler. In his main character, Rick Travers, the reader senses a bit of the sarcastic wit of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, a delightful combination of classics transported into the New Millennium.

The setting is pure South, told through a Southernerís eye and bringing gripping reality to descriptions, characters, mannerisms and mood. Atkinsí dialog is superb, his prose intensely detailed with sensory images that evoke a sense of the South, and his plot is unique, offering a conglomeration of blues, jazz, Southern charm and deadly mayhem. If youíre in the mood for something a little different, try Dark End of the Street. You wonít be disappointed.

© 2003 by Denise M. Clark for Curled Up With a Good Book

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