Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 2, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-000462-2
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre:   Mystery/Suspense
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson

Reviewer Notes: Review One

Review Three

 Reviewer Kristin Johnson is the author of CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins and ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D.


Dirty South
By Ace Atkins

      Dirty South starts out with the premise “What would you do if you only had twenty-four hours to save the life of a friend?” That’s the rap teaser. Rhythm and blues takes its time, and unlike rap, it sings about real things. As fictional blues legend JoJo says, “Rap doesn’t elevate us…Money, money, money. Trashy women. That’s not music. Glorifies people being ignorant. Blues is music.”

      Tell it to fifteen-year-old rapper named Alias, who started life abandoned by his mother, a drug addict and prostitute and got a dose of reality when his friends conned him. When you come from nothing, become a millionaire with a lakefront mansion in your teens, then have respect, women, money, song and fame yanked away from you because of cross-town rivals, you sing the why-me blues.

      JoJo and Ace Atkins’s hero, Nick Travers, aren’t listening. The old man, who sits nightly drinking beer on his porch with his wife Loretta, waxes cautionary about rap: “That music is against God. Makes thugs into heroes, women into things, and money above all.”

       Perhaps. And as Nick discovers, loyalty to a former football teammate means about as much as a Jennifer Lopez marriage in the world of Dr. Dre and P. Diddy. However, when you can make a novel about rap sound like a 1930’s blues song mourning popular culture, yet acknowledging its siren’s smile of groups such as Alias that lures children, rappers and the rap culture are elevated into understanding as opposed to glorification.

      Even the customary race complaints strike no sour notes here. Teddy Paris, Nick’s former teammate, says to white Nick, “You got to know what it feels like to walk into a restaurant or bar or Saks or some shit and have people not wait on you…I wear the car, the jewelry, the two-thousand-dollar suit that makes people respect me.”

      Nick reminds him of the Ludacris wannabes spending their parents’ hard-earned cash on an Alias album. Alias discovers he likes Nick, Jojo and Loretta’s dose of blues reality. Nick escapes from Teddy Paris’s world and also finds home. This mystery sings truth to power.