Bittersweet home Alabama
It’s 1954, and the attorney-general-elect of Alabama has been assassinated near a downtown street.
Among the gathering crowd stands a young teen still wearing 3-D glasses from the John Wayne movie he’s just seen. So begins Ace Atkins’ novel, Wicked City
, a vivid depiction of the real-life Phenix City, a den of gambling, prostitution and corruption that rivaled any Hollywood creation.
Atkins provides a 3-D view through two narrators, an omniscient teller and Lamar Murphy, an ex-boxer enlisted to help solve Albert Patterson’s murder. The author effectively switches voices within scenes. As Murphy ventures around dark corners, the reader can see who’s waiting. Imagine shadowboxing, only this time the shadows fight back.
A character warns that the sweetness of Phenix City moonshine masks the embalming fluid that provides its kick. Atkins has likewise crafted a smart tale of a decadent place; Southern sweetness laced with poison.