Monday, February 23, 2015

The novel "Casey's Last Chance" offers a hardboiled journey through a dark, treacherous U.S. South in 1960 that targeted labor organizers as well as civil rights activists

(To the right, a look at the cover of Casey's Last Chance. Eric Summers is the artist who did the cover) 

Loyal Labor South readers and followers, here’s some news that’s a bit self-serving, but I hope you’ll be happy to hear it and maybe follow up with a purchase of my newly published novel, Casey’s Last Chance (Sartoris Literary Group), under my byline Joseph B. Atkins, a book with a strong labor and civil rights theme and one that probes that U.S. South in much the same way this blog and my other, nonfiction writing have for years.

Casey’s Last Chance takes the reader on a dark, treacherous journey through the U.S. South in July 1960, a time when the region is about to explode with the civil rights movement gaining momentum and the organized resistance to it preparing for all-out war. The central character, Casey Eubanks, is a brooding, hotheaded, small-time North Carolina hustler on the run after an angry fight with his girlfriend Orella that leaves his cousin Bux Baggett dead.

A crony, Clyde Point, sets Casey up with a big operator in Memphis, Max Duren, a shadowy former Nazi with a wide financial network. Big profit comes from squeezing the working poor at his mills. Duren has a problem and needs a gunman/patsy from outside to help him solve it. The problem’s name is Ala Gadomska, a labor organizer stirring up trouble at one of Duren’s mills in northern Mississippi. He hires Casey to kill her during a rally. What follows is a long chase through a race-torn South with both goons and cops on the hunt for Casey, who has to face the man looking back at him in the rearview mirror and make some tough decisions that will determine whether he survives.

The novel’s cast of characters includes Martin Wolfe, an alcoholic freelance labor writer investigating Duren’s operation, and Hardy Beecher, a rogue FBI agent who has been hunting Duren since the Nazi was a spy during World War II.

The book is now available at bookstores here in Mississippi and also in Amazon in paperback and Kindle as well as (already or soon) at, Nook and in ebook formats at Apple and Kobo. Signings are scheduled at various bookstores in Mississippi over the next several weeks with other signings beyond the state hopefully soon to come.

The book has won praise. Veteran journalist Curtis Wilkie, author of Dixie and The Fall of the House of Zeus, said this: "Atkins establishes for himself a place in the top ranks of Southern gothic storytellers." Edgar Award-winning author Megan Abbott said the book is "pitch-perfect vintage noir" with "hardboiled grit to burn." And the publisher, James L. Dickerson said, "Author Atkins writes fiction the way Jimi Hendrix played guitar, with delicate fingering that explodes into soaring, lyrical riffs when least expected." 

If you get to read Casey’s Last Chance, please drop in a review at Amazon or another venue, and also let me know how you like it!

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