A first novel introducing ex-football star Nick Travers of New Orleans. Now a blues historian writing a bio of Guitar Slim, Nick spends his days and nights teaching blues history part-time at Tulane University, playing jazz harp at JoJo’s Blues Bar at the edge of the French Quarter, and missing a recently departed girlfriend. Then comes a call from Randy Sexton, head of Tulane’s Jazz and Blues Archives, asking for help. Michael Baker, professor of music history, has disappeared in the Greenwood area of the Mississippi Delta while tracking Robert Johnson, a jazz legend who vanished in the late 1930s. Nick heads for Greenwood and begins a long, violence-packed search, encountering characters like young, stupid Jesse Garon (a psychopathic killer who worships Elvis), Delta policeman Willie Brown (soon to die), ruthless record producer and blues-club owner Pascal Cruz, his hit man Sweet Boy Floyd, and Cracker—an aged albino who holds the key to Johnson’s death and to the priceless, never-heard recordings he left behind. On the plus side there’s red-headed jazz guitarist Virginia Dare, but Nick is one tired dude by the time it’s all over. The plotting is endlessly confusing, and the narration heavily laden with raw language and raw sex. But the author’s energy, talent, and deep love of music will leave many readers looking forward to Atkins’s next outing.