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April 09, 2008
Visit the Wicked Cityby Scott
After finishing school at Auburn, Ace Atkins worked the crime beat as a reporter for The Tampa Tribune. During his time with the paper, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize as a result of his work on a series of articles investigating a decades-old murder.
Ace quit journalism to write fiction fulltime and published the novels Crossroads Blues, Leavin' Trunk Blues, Dark End of the Street, and Dirty South.
But he returned to that unsolved murder from Tampa for his critically acclaimed 2006 novel White Shadow. Carl Hiaasen said the book "is classic Florida noir, a great crime novel set in the fabulously crime-ridden '50s. Ace Atkins has done a superb job of re-creating old Tampa, a place whose underworld was as dangerous and debauched as Chicago's in its prime."
Now, Atkins turns to the sordid Phenix City in his homestate of Alabama. Journalists of the 1950's labeled the town "the wickedest city in America." And when do-gooder attorney Albert Patterson is mowed down by gunfire on a busy street, the state governor has to actually send in the National Guard to restore some semblance of order. But this isn't the Guard's fight.
Instead, the fate of Phenix City falls to normal citizens such as Lamar Murphy, a former boxer-turned-gas station owner. Murphy and a few other brave townspeople fight to purge the city of pimps, bootleggers, prostitutes, illegal gamblers, and crooked politicians in this gripping novel.
Filled with historical fact, this novel is a classic page-turner in the true sense of the phrase.
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