The Dying Crapshooter’s Blues

Written by David Fulmer
Review by John R. Vallely

David Fulmer’s 1920s Atlanta is a city torn by racial and class strife and patrolled by a poorly managed and corrupt police department. This Atlanta is a dark and hopeless urban landscape from which escape is, at best, uncertain. The story begins with the murder of an African American gambler by an alcoholic white policeman. Joe Rose, by profession a thief but one cursed by a sentimental streak, quickly finds himself entangled with a brutal police captain, Grayton Jackson, in an investigation of a jewel theft from a prominent family. The homicide and the jewel heist dominate Joe Rose’s life as he attempts to keep himself free of Captain Jackson while simultaneously providing for the dying Jesse (who is Jesse?), a blind blues singer named Willie, and Pearl, the woman Joe loves and the one human being who scares him. As if his life weren’t complicated enough, Captain Jackson’s sex-crazed wife is also in pursuit of this thoroughly unlucky thief. Subplot is heaped upon subplot in settings populated by characters every bit as finely crafted as those in Fulmer’s Rampart Street, Jass, and Chasing the Devil’s Tail. One hopes the author, a resident of 21st century Atlanta, will bring Joe Rose back in follow-up stories of 1920s Atlanta.