Atlanta, 1923: In the midst of Prohibition, the city is seething with corruption, bootlegging, narcotics, gambling, and counterfeiting scams. This would seem the perfect scenario for Joe “Indian Joe” Rose to drift into town, as he does every year or so, to try to make some cash.
Actually, Joe couldn’t have picked a worse time to show his face in Atlanta. He’s well known among the cops and thieves of this town, and too
much is going down. Though his skin is of a copper complexion, no one knows whether he’s actually an Indian, but the cops figure that he gets along too well with blacks to be totally white. The city’s women also know him well, and they hold a weakness for his charismatic but dangerous demeanor. It’s gotten him into trouble before—either with a jealous husband, a protective brother, or a jilted woman.
Joe’s troubles begin when he lands on an old acquaintance, Little Jesse Williams, who was just shot by one of the city’s beat cops. Blind Willie, who carries a guitar on his shoulder and always has a tune in his head, comes onto the scene about the same time. Though Jesse was a gambler, pimp, and petty thief, there seems to be more to this shooting. Willie begs Joe to get the whole story—but is there one? After all, it’s not the first time a black rounder was shot by a drunken white cop. But Joe’s suspicions rise as too many witnesses wind up dead.
However, he should lay low. On the wealthy side of town, some jewels are reported stolen from the Payne mansion, and Captain Grayton Jackson, who was passed over for police chief, is pressured to solve the case. His anger is fueled by the fact that the new mayor wants to clean up the city. Unfortunately, Rose has crossed Jackson too many times, and he’d make the perfect fall guy.
The Dying Crapshooter’s Blues is a captivating novel that keeps you hooked at every page. David Fulmer will pull you in to the seedier side of life, and you’ll become entrenched in this fascinating period of American history. The numerous subplots—from the neglected wife who’s plotting to destroy her husband to the New York music producer on a mission to discover raw southern talent—add depth to the story. Don’t worry, though—you’ll have no problem keeping track of them all.
You’ll also appreciate the book’s authentic characters, complete with all of their human flaws. In fact, “bad” Joe Rose will seduce any female reader—though I don’t know if that was Fulmer’s intention.
This enticing story—as well as its complex characters and fascinating historical perspective—will surely enthrall all fans of crime novels, no matter their gender. You can’t go wrong with this one.
(review previously published on www.nightsandweekends.com)