Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cross Road Blues

Troy D. Smith is a man after my own heart. Not only has he create a gutbucket crime novel revolving around the blues world located way down in the alley, but he's also created a protagonist who plays the blues harp (and here I was thinking that I was the only one thinking like that). Smith sets his Cross Road Blues (Perfect Crime Books) during the heyday of the blues in 1957, when the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Elmore James, and Howlin' Wolf stomped out their musical territory.

Sitting in Malcolm's, a Nashville neighborhood dive, Roy Carpenter dreams that Muddy will hear of his blues harmonica prowess and sweep him away from his day job pumping gas. Instead, he settles for an offer to blow harp and hit the road with a young hot shot guitarist, Jimmy Newsome. His only reluctance is that the job entails body guard duty and having to work with Jimmy's sleazy manager, Benny Lee. Roy can't pass up the opportunity to play with the best guitar player that he's ever heard, so he's soon immersed into Jimmy Newsome's mysterious world of voodoo hoodoo and erratic behavior to go along with the deep blues licks that he pulls from his guitar strings. He also finds himself tangled up in the shady business dealings of Jimmy's manager, and dodging bullets and thugs is not what Roy had in mind for advancing his career in blues music.

Troy D. Smith knows his blues, either as an enthusiast or as an author who's researched the genre well, because he's whipped up a slice of this cultural pie that oozes with authenticity; the same sort of authenticity he employed in his award winning novels about the Old West. He creates a blues vibe that resonates in dialect of the characters, the music being created, and the juke joints that they inhabit. Crime novel enthusiasts should find a great deal of enjoyment following the adventures and misadventures of Roy Carpenter and blues fans should delight in his quest just to be recognized as a damned good harmonica player, who just wants to blow some blues. He just doesn't expect murder and mayhem to get in the way.

I applaud Perfect Crime Books for bringing this entertaining blues tale to the table. I'm also looking forward to their upcoming release of Hank and Muddy. That's right, author Stephen Mertz has Hank Williams and Muddy Water crossing paths in the 1950s, each with a bit  of sleuthing up their sleeves. Stay tuned. Until then, visit their website at and check out their catalogue. Amazon's a good place to order Cross Road Blues. 'Nuff for now.


Travis Erwin said...

Sounds like an interesting read and one that would teach me a thing or two about the blues.

Ricky Bush said...

You just might like the tale Travis.