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by Ace Atkins
HarperTorch, December 2003
416 pages
ISBN: 0060004614

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DARK END OF THE STREET is the third in the Nick Travers series, but my first one to read. I found the character of Nick totally different in that he doesn't want to be involved in murder, but in tracking blues musicians and their histories, he sometimes gets involved in scams and cover-ups.

Nick is asked by his friend Loretta to find her missing brother, Clyde James, a well-known blues musician who disappeared after his wife and best friend were murdered. A simple enough case, but, as Nick travels to Memphis, he comes up against a female con artist and her lover, the head of the Dixie Mafia.

In one scene, Nick is in the process of interviewing someone when he notices a female being held against her will. He races into the room to rescue this person, only to find he is now trying to help the lady solve her parents' murder. It seems her dad had some evidence that an upcoming politician had murdered two people in his past and is being blackmailed into allowing gambling casinos to open in Memphis.

As the case progresses, Nick finds Clyde James in a homeless park, has run-ins with a southern-style militia, and is being pursued by John Burrows, a hit man who believes he is the reincarnation of Elvis Presley and cannot be killed. The action comes to a blazing end with all the parties meeting on an abandoned railroad bridge.

In Nick Travers, Ace Atkins has created a protagonist who uses the history of blues music to get involved in cases involving missing people, murder, mob connections, and assassins. The plot has some weak spots in it, but overall, Atkins pulls off a hit with this book, the third in this series.

Reviewed by Steven Sill, May 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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