Book of the Month
Casey's Last Chance
By Joseph B. Atkins
Memphis Gangster Hires Hitman to Kill Mississippi Labor Organizer
"Move over Greg Iles and make room for another novelist who traffics in treachery, wild rides, unreconstructed Nazis and rogue agents. In Casey’s Last Chance, Joseph B. Atkins establishes for himself a place in the top ranks of Southern gothic storytellers, with a cast of evil characters and a few good men and women to fight them."—Curtis Wilkie, author of The Fall of the House of Zeus.
"Joe Atkins’s Casey’s Last Chance is such pitch-perfect vintage noir, you can almost smell the cigarette burning in the ashtray, a woman’s perfume drifting past. With a twisty plot, vibrant characters, and hardboiled grit to burn, it’s everything you want in a crime novel."—Megan Abbott, Edgar-award-winning author of Dare Me and The Fever.
Written in a hardboiled, noir style, Casey's Last Chance takes you back to the days of Raymond Chandler, when characters knew only one direction—straight ahead, their fedoras tilted into the wind. Author Atkins writes fiction the way Jimi Hendrix played guitar, with delicate fingering that explodes into soaring, lyrical riffs when least expected.
Casey Eubanks, is a small-time North Carolina hustler on the run after angrily firing a shot over the head of his girlfriend Orella during an argument and accidentally killing his cousin. He seeks refuge with a crony, Clyde Point, who steers him to a big operator in Memphis, Max Duren, a shadowy former Nazi with a wide financial network across the South. The story takes place in the U.S. South in July 1960 and is reflective of underworld opposition to organized labor.
Duren hires Casey to kill Ala Gadomska, a labor organizer who is stirring up trouble at one of Duren’s mills in northern Mississippi. Casey sets up for a sniper shot during a rally, but can’t go through with it. She’s beautiful, makes sense, and maybe he’s developing a conscience.
Now he’s on the run again, this time from Duren’s goons as well as the cops. Enter Martin Wolfe, a freelance reporter investigating Duren’s operation. He tries to talk Casey into joining forces with him and FBI agent Hardy Beecher to bring Duren down.
Casey dumps Wolfe, steals his car, and returns home to Orella. A Duren goon awaits him there, however. A bloody shootout leaves Orella dead and convinces Casey to partner with Wolfe and Beecher.
It’s Casey’s last chance. The three take off across the South to execute a plan—with the help of Ala Gadomska—to destroy Duren. Everything works according to plan until the explosive end, at which point no one is able to escape unscathed.
About the Author
Joseph B. Atkins is a veteran journalist and writer who teaches journalism at the University of Mississippi. A North Carolina native and former congressional correspondent, Atkins is author of Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press (University Press of Mississippi). His fiction has appeared in Hardboiled and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and his novella Crossed Roads was a finalist in the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Awards in New Orleans. He has homes in Oxford and Memphis.