DIRTY SOUTH by Ace Atkins


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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.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-000462-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2003

Kirkus Interview
Ace Atkins
June 2, 2015

P.I. Spenser, knight-errant of the Back Bay, returns in Kickback, the latest in the iconic New York Times–bestselling series from author Ace Atkins. What started out as a joke landed 17-year-old Dillon Yates in a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor. When he set up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal, he never dreamed he could be brought up on criminal charges, but that’s exactly what happened. This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life. Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today’s wild youth. But Dillon’s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn’t buying Scali’s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing. “It’s great to see Spenser tackle a social evil with its roots in real life,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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