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A dollar donation for every book sold will be given to the Rock River Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping the arts and literacy in the Delta.
Contributing to the volume are Ace Atkins, Lynne Barrett, James Lee Burke, Suzann Ellingsworth, Beth Ann Fennelly, Bill Fitzhugh, Tom Franklin, John Grisham, Carolyn Haines, Charlaine Harris, Suzanne Hudson, Alice Jackson, Dean James, Toni L.P. Kelner, Michael Lister, Daniel Martine, Mary Saums, David Sheffield, Nathan Singer, and Les Standiford.
From the introduction by Morgan Freeman:
This collection of short fiction captures both the art of the tale and the power of the blues, and is a nod at the human condition that often inspires musicians to write and sing the blues. These stories tell about bad men and bad women who sometimes do good—or sometimes follow their true nature. Some of these characters know all about the dangers of making a bargain with the devil. And some know the power of redemption. These are characters who would not be out of place in a Honeyboy Edwards tune, and would be right at home alongside the desolate wail of Clarksdale, Mississippi, native Son House.
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Theme anthologies are common in the mystery genre, but here’s one that distinguishes itself from the crowd. Haines brings together not only stories set in the Delta region of the South but also stories that draw on the rich traditions of the Delta blues. Naturally, the iconic saga of Robert Johnson selling his soul at the Crossroads turns up (in Charlaine Harris’ “Crossroads Bargain”), but even without the supernatural, these tales are rich in gothic overtones and in themes common to the blues: love lost, found, and betrayed; the inevitability of heartbreak; and, of course, the sense that evil is lurking right outside the juke joint. Haines gathers an impressive group of authors, including James Lee Burke, John Grisham, and Ace Atkins, all of whom deliver solid stories, especially Burke, whose “Big Midnight Special” is one of several entries set in a prison. Perhaps the standout story, though, comes from editor Haines, who typically writes southern cozies but proves more than capable of working dark in “The Sugar Cure,” about a prison guard’s wife who isn’t going to take it anymore. --Bill OttFrom Publishers Weekly:
The blues are at home anywhere, but the epicenter is Clarksdale, Miss., the setting for at least a third of the 19 original stories in this virtuoso crime anthology. Despite the common theme, this diverse volume ranges from Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly's What His Hands Had Been Waiting For, a memorably redemptive story set during the 1927 flood of the Mississippi, to John Grisham's long, haunting Fetching Raymond, in which members of a dysfunctional family trek to notorious Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary. James Lee Burke's Big Midnight Special is a powerful story about a Parchman Farm inmate driven too far. Several tales play off the legendary crossroads meeting of the devil and Robert Johnson, including Michael Lister's Death at the Crossroads, Charlaine Harris's Crossroads Bargain, and Daniel Martine's Kidd Diamond. Other contributors include Les Standiford, Ace Atkins, Nathan Singer, Dean James, and Haines. (May)
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