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White Shadow - Review

Location, Location, Location. This dictum rules the realty market, but I would say that it is a less governing principle in the Crime Fiction world. Character is king in Crimelandia. That is not to say location does not have its place, but rarely do I put down a book or fail to read it because of location.

Unless that location is Florida.

Crime Fiction set in the state of Florida had its last big moment in the late 80's and early 90's. This period coincides with my entry into the Crime Novel, but almost all of the great Florida authors did nothing for me. Believe me I tried. When everyone was telling me how much they enjoyed the latest James W. Hall or the newest Carl Hiaasen, it was a bummer that I could only shrug my shoulders and wonder what the heck was wrong with me. If there is a palm tree on the cover and a vague mention of tropic climates in the title I don't even bother cracking the spine.

It was an odd sense of dismay when I discovered that the Ace Atkins had written a book set in Florida. Now let me state clearly that I think Ace Atkins is amazing. A great writer that thankfully over the last few books has gained greater attention. However, knowing that the book was set in Florida gave me pause since the book's 2006 publication.

WHITE SHADOW is the first of the faux-fiction written by Ace Atkins. It is also a break from his series character, Nick Travers. The book opens with the factual event. The assassination of Charlie Wall, former kingpin of Tampa. Charlie is a man nearing the end, his time has past. Drunk, he walks through the city, and neighborhoods he once ruled. It is the last night of his life.

The rest of the story follows three characters. The cop lost in a corrupt police force. The reporter who is looking for a break and a woman on the run from the mobsters that put Charlie in the ground. Oh, and Fidel Castro makes an appearance. The story plays out in Tampa and Cuba. Fidel is rising in the island nation and the Mob's time is coming to end.

It has been fashionable for sometime to strip away the peace and tranquility of the 50's to discovery that like most everything it was not so much rotten as it was curdled. Writers like Ross Macdonald were doing this way back then, but James Ellroy is the guy who turned this into a solid gold industry. WHITE SHADOW is not as good as Ellroy's LA Quartet, but it was pretty darn close. The moral anguish of these characters is palpable to the extent that it drives the book forward into a future that has little regard for human feeling and human life. Mr. Atkins really puts the hammer down in this book. It is head and shoulders above anything he has done to the this point. Lately, I have lamented about the lack of scope in much of the Crime Fiction I have been reading. WHITE SHADOW proves that in nearly 400 pages you can pack in a huge story without turning the book into a door stop. Fantastic stuff.

Mr. Atkins latest, Devil's Garden, was a part of The Hungry Detective's 2009 Spring Preview. That book is out now.


Leigh Russell said…
Help needed!
Due to a glitch in's system, I seem to have written the only crime thriller in the UK that doesn't appear on All my publisher's other titles are listed and my book can be ordered from all other online suppliers, including! There is no reason to exclude my title and refuse to explain themselves.
I'm an insignificant individual, powerless to influence this huge organisation, but their indifference has incensed me. I'm attempting to battle's monopoly in the UK by asking readers in the USA to order my inexpensive paperback from If you would be kind enough to consider supporting my campaign against a faceless corporation, please check out my blog for details of Cut Short by Leigh Russell.

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