WHITE SHADOW by Ace Atkins
Kirkus Star


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A wild ride back to south Florida in the mid-1950s, when reporters were boozy, women were floozies, cops were for sale and stone killers managed somehow to be colorful.

On Monday, April 15, 1955, person or persons unknown severely punished Charlie Wall, king of the bootleggers in his time, with a baseball bat and then slit his throat—a homicide never solved. This is the pivotal, real-life episode Atkins uses to spin his tale of murder, betrayal and revenge in tempestuous Tampa, a city once dubbed “Little Chicago.” Mob hits then were as integral to the scene as senior-citizen ex-pats are now. So who rubbed the old man out? Was it Santo Trafficante, operations boss of that busy crime triangulation—Sicily to Tampa to Havana—who might have arranged the deed simply because he could? Or how about Johnny Rivera, a hood's hood, sullen, reptilian, unburdened by anything resembling a conscience. Had he become convinced that the old man had grown loose-lipped with age? Detective Ed Dodge, the anomalous cop without a price tag, likes Johnny for it. But then he likes Johnny for just about anything that is vicious, cold-blooded and fatal. On the periphery as the drama unfolds, a kind of Greek chorus, are the reporters: 26-year old J.B. Turner, serving Atkins as alter ego and narrator; and smart, beautiful, endlessly enigmatic Eleanor Charles, chief among them—sniffing at the action, ever alert for byline material, seemingly safe behind the shield of their notebooks. Until suddenly they aren't.

Atkins (Dirty South, 2004, etc.) mutes his Nick Travers series, benching the blues-loving ex-footballer, for something much more ambitious. This is a big-time crime novel crammed with violence, sex and some pretty good writing makes it hard to put down.

Pub Date: May 4th, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-15355-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2006

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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