Friday, September 13, 2013

Crossroad Blues

Ace Atkins
Crossroad Blues

St Martin’s, 1998

A part of Friday Forgotten Books

Nick Travers once played football until he beat up his coach in front of the entire stadium. Having his sports career end, Travers started to give lectures on the history of the blues at college. When in the Mississippi Delta Travers’ colleague has gone missing, seeking the lost recordings of legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson, Travers is asked to find the missing man, who in addition to being a historian, also a first-class asshole.

Travers travels to a small town Greenwood, but instead of the colleague finds only trouble. The missing records are also hunting for by a shady producer from Los Angeles and Elvis-looking guy who dreams of becoming a professional hitman.

Ace Atkins is hardly a forgotten writer, as he is now at the peak of his career, but his earlier work may well be underestimated. Atkins' debut is of that category of books, where there is the right mix of local and global story. Against the background of the search of the mythical records, the Holy Grail to any blues researcher, unfolds quite a local story about the struggle between good and evil. Here, if someone is killed, death stays for a long time, and every lost human life is like a string - can not be repaired.

Atkins in the course of the plot makes excursion into history, but does not try the patience of a reader who wants to bullets flying and blood gushed out. And if Travers is not the most original creation in the history of literature, then an Elvis impersonator named Jesse might be that case. Rarely you can find a villain who is original, stubborn and stupid with some outrageous stupidity.

«Jesse knew better. E lived for fifteen years in a one-bedroom house with his momma and daddy, and look what happened to him. The German chick knew it. Didn't matter if Puka was just plain stupid. He'd show that fool. "Fuck him," Jesse said.

"Sorry Elvis, Sometimes I know not what I'm sayin '." With two fingers, he crossed his heart and silently mouthed: "Takin 'care of business. TCB.»

Those, who love the Atkins books written a few years ago, should definitely return to his earlier creation.