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Descending Memphis Paperback – May 28, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert R. Moss was part of the Washington, D.C. music scene in the early 1980s. He played bass in several bands, most notably Artificial Peace and Government Issue. His music was released on Dischord Records and other labels, and, as in the early days of Sun Records, it was a time when new things were happening in rock ’n’ roll.

During those few exciting years, Robert played on the bill with numerous bands including the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, S.O.A., Black Flag and Channel 3. Venues where he performed include CBGBs, the Peppermint Lounge, A7, the Wilson Center, Oscar’s Eye, the Mabuhay Gardens and many more across the United States.

Now, more than 30 years later and with the benefit of hindsight, Robert draws on his experiences—along with the accounts of others and his imagination—and places them into a work of fiction set years before he was born. In what is his first novel, Robert tells a detective/coming-of-age-story that goes beyond music and crime and speaks to issues of race, as well as to universal ideas of becoming an adult in a world that centers on youth.

Robert has worked in the film, television and advertising industries and currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.




Read an interview with the author in Shea Magazine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Valor Books (May 28, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692364226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692364222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,647,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Descending Memphis by Robert Moss is a noir fiction novel that exhibits the rare combination of a compelling storyline, interesting character development and superb writing. This sets it apart from many of the novels of this genre. In style and and plot framework, its a mystery so there’s a nod to masters of the genre such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. However, no one would confuse the scope of this work with those writers given the time, setting, characters, themes and occasional forays into magic realism that embody the novel.

The story takes place in the racially segregated Memphis of the 1950’s at the genesis of Rock N’ Roll. There is rich and precise attention to details of locality, cars, music, food, and colloquial language. Reading the story makes one feel that they are transported back to that time and place. The plot and writing flows at just the right pace with not a word or sentence superfluous. Much is learned about the protagonist, Tommy Rhodeen, a small time private detective who seems to be barely making it when he is recruited by a high profile client to work on new case more difficult than any he has dealt with before. Themes of love, loss, music, good, evil and marginality infuse the novel. Ghosts and personal demons haunt Tommy Rhodeen as they weave their way mysteriously in and out of the storyline. An intriguing aspect of the protagonist is his marginality. You can’t exactly call him a hero but he isn’t a criminal either. The nature of his work requires that he operate in both the reputable and seedier sides of 1950’s Memphis. Similarly, he must engage all the racial circles of that time not always with desirable outcomes.
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Format: Paperback
Congratulations to Robert Moss. He's really done his homework. I grew up in Memphis in the 1950s and his narrative about the home town of that period is "right on". Reading the book was like going home, being 16 again, and knowing exactly where you are. I could taste the barbecue.

This fast-paced detective tale has great twists in story along the way. Loved the music-slant and the section where Rhodeen is in the recording studio is a masterpiece. Excellent coverage and I wanted to read more.
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Format: Paperback
I normally am not into fiction. I typically read biographies, history, and political books. So when I read this, I was totally shocked how much I truly loved this book. Here is why:

The character development is perfect. You know just enough about the characters without being overwhelmed but just kind of wish you knew a slight bit more. I liked it that way. It let me follow the story and draw my own possible reasoning for certain behaviors.

Each chapter did not drone on and on. There was so much detail about the way things smelled, looked, felt, and sounded yet not over-stylized and over-stated. You just kind of feel like you are there.

Just when you think you have it figured out...you don't!!!!!!!! That's the best part. It almost made me mad that I didn't see IT earlier. If you like great novels with twists you will love this!

The thing I really identified with the most was how the main character probably never had a day go like he thought it would when he woke up in the morning. Say what you want, but it makes for an interesting and never boring life to say the least. This is what really made this book fun.

I am a music freak. I cut my teeth on DC Punk and bands in the 80s like the The Smiths and The Cure and G.I. and Scream and No Authority and Bad Brains and yes, even Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard and Bob Marley and Excene Cervenka. With THAT said..I loved the old great blues and rock and roll in this book. It made me search out that music and listen to it and I have a new found respect for it. Now I see why Johnny Marr plays the way he always has.

Everything is visual to me. This book HAS to be turned into a series on HBO or a major motion picture. Right up there with True Detective or even a movie as great as Mulholland Drive.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Descending Memphis. It is a fast paced detective story set in Memphis in the late ’50s. The story follows the young semi-pro private investigator Tommy Rhodeen through his attempts to solve his first missing person case. While the plot line is reminiscent of classic detective fiction, the book’s setting and the personality of Tommy Rhodeen give Descending Memphis a unique character.

Rhodeen is an interesting and well developed character. Many of his friends and acquaintances are petty criminals, and his inroad to private investigation - retrieving stolen property - is not entirely above the law. Nonetheless, he generally tries to do the right thing and effect a positive outcome. Part of what makes Rhodeen such an compelling character is the fact that he hasn’t fully figured out what he wants to do with his life. He’s more or less stumbled into private investigating, but his passion is to be a rock and roll musician. Meanwhile, his Aunt Norma would prefer that he take a conventional steady job as a mechanic. Unlike the standard protagonists of hard boiled detective fiction or film noir, Rhodeen does not come off as cynical or jaded despite his conflicted nature.

There are many twists along the way, and most of the actions that Rhodeen takes trying to solve the case have unintended results. This kept me engaged and guessing. Nonetheless, the ending surprised me and left me thinking “why didn’t I see that coming?”

Bonus: If you take the time to listen to the artists that are that are mentioned in the course of the narrative, you are both in for a treat as well as a more immersive experience.
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