In 1954, Phenix City on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee River was often compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. Situated on the Georgia border, Phenix City, nick-named Sin City by the press, was a magnet for the soldiers at Fort Benning. Nevertheless, there were many decent, upright citizens disgusted with the well-entrenched political machine that fed off Phenix City’s profits from gambling and prostitution. One man, Albert Patterson, stepped up to the mat, put his life on the line and was elected State Attorney General. His murder before taking office is the last straw.
The hero is a gas station owner named Lamar Murphy. Lamar seems to be one of those men who, having found themselves in the right (or possibly the wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time, bites the bullet and just gets the job done. He is named sheriff and, along with Patterson’s son, investigates the murder. This investigation causes a rash of cover-up crimes. Despite threats to his life and family, Lamar manages to keep all intact and catch the bad guys in the end.
Ace Atkins has done a superb job with this fictionalized account of a true incident. Wicked City is peopled with both real and invented characters. He successfully employs the style of investigative journalism, and the plot moves along at a rapid, cannot- put-down pace.