Nick Travers, erstwhile football player, blues historian extraordinaire, and latter-day knight errant, breaks still another lance in behalf of a beset friend.
Nick’s fourth outing begins with Teddy Paris—who once partnered Nick in terrorizing NFL quarterbacks as part of a legendary New Orleans Saints defense—clamoring for his help. Until recently Teddy had it made as boss of Ninth Ward Records, among the industry’s hotter labels. Now the rap producer suddenly sees his success unraveling and a truly scary ultimatum hanging over his head. Somehow somebody’s conned a million dollars from Alias, a 15-year-old rap phenom on whose skinny shoulders Ninth Ward Records had been building its stairway to heaven. Is Teddy the culprit? He says no, but a certain hard-eyed, mean-spirited, single-minded competitor whose resolve and general outlook were largely shaped during a stint in Angola Prison, and who now claims a substantial portion of the stolen swag, begs to disagree. He’s given Teddy, who takes him as seriously as everyone else on the planet does, exactly one day to show him the money. “I only got twenty-one hours of my life left,” Teddy tells Nick mournfully. So with a bluesy sigh, Nick slips into his Superman duds.
As usual (Dark End of the Street, 2002, etc.), Atkins’s sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, always colorful characters are better than his overstuffed plot.