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 Mystery Review    



Atlanta Blues
by Robert Lamb
Harbor House, 2004
Hardcover, $24.95   (330 pages)
ISBN: 1-891799-02-9

Atlanta Blues is an edgy crime thriller that takes the reader into the city’s darker side of homosexual prostitution and pornography. Yet, it breaks the first rule of crime thrillers – a murder in the first chapter. What results in the end is a strong character-driven thriller that questions two Souths, and the morality battle that takes place daily. 

Journalist Ben Blake has been writing a series about the stress that policemen face each day and the adverse effects – divorce, suicide, burnout and abuse. He is approached by the parents of a missing teenage girl, because of his police connections and because he has known personal loss. He can’t say no.  

Ben rides with policemen Rich Casenelli and Johnny Lee Cook through the district where runaways are likely to get lost in a crowd – also where they are likely to earn money through prostitution. They show the picture of Connie Phillips and a male friend of hers who was also reported missing. The boy is soon recognized as a hardcore male prostitute. After a talk with Connie’s girlfriend, it is believed that she may be homosexual as well.  

They might have closed the case there and let the two disappear in their chosen lifestyle; but the male is discovered murdered. They have to locate Connie to make sure she is safe and not running from a similar fate. 

Officer Rick Casenelli lives for the adrenaline rush of the job. Stake outs can be long and boring, but he is always on alert and ready for the chase. His need for adventure extends to women and fast cars. Casenelli is ambitious and sees this case as his ticket to becoming detective. 

Officer Johnny Lee Cook is from Claxton, Georgia, which is described as a sort of Mayberry where the worse case may be a fender bender or speeding. Cook represents a loss of innocence and the desire for the traditional values of small towns. 

Atlanta Blues is an eye-opening look at the two Atlanta’s: daytime where families play in the park and go to traditional jobs; and nighttime where the same park becomes a sex shopping mall of every perversion. The book does not judge the lifestyle, but does show the dangers within the kinky underworld.  

Atlanta Blues is edgy, fast-paced and has heart -- a nice combination.


Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews


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