Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dixie Noir-Kirk Curnutt

Dixie Noir
Kirk Curnutt
Five Star, Nov 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148217

After a decade behind bars for drug trafficking, former Alabama football star Ennis Skinner is freed from prison. He returns home to Montgomery, Alabama hoping to atone for his transgression. His ailing father, who was part of the Civil Rights Movement, welcomes Ennis home.

Even before he can settle in with his dad, former Meth salesman High C asks Ennis to find his missing nineteen year old mentally challenged daughter Caroline called Dixie by her late mom Alice “Faye” James. The request brings back memories Ennis would prefer to forget. On his way to the NFL, he and the late Faye had a heated tryst that led to the jock’s drug ruin. At the same time when the city is divided over race as the white incumbent Amory Justice and African-American Walk Compson vie for the mayor’s position, Dixie somehow seems to be caught in the middle somehow.

Dixie Noir is an intriguing amateur sleuth mystery that focuses on race relations in the Deep South during a heated mayoral election further fueled by Amory’s daughter. The story line is fast-paced but character driven with homage paid to local heroes like the Bear, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Joe Willie. Ennis is terrific as an infamous legend in Crimson Tide football for his “cocaine on the membrane”. Although a final Dixie twist seems more an unnecessary shocker that detracts from an otherwise strong regional drama, fans will enjoy this fine Alabama thriller.

Harriet Klausner