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White Shadow Mass Market Paperback – April 3, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reminiscent of James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential, Atkins's fictionalized account of the unsolved murder of real-life Tampa crime boss Charlie Wall in 1955 admirably recreates a time and a place, but too much detail makes the narrative less compelling than it could have been. Wall, a famous bootlegger whose nickname gives the book its title, is an old man when he's murdered, and the plot turns on the quest to find the killer, taking detective Ed Dodge and a local reporter on a journey from Tampa's Latin Quarter to prerevolutionary Havana (Castro makes an appearance). Atkins (Dirty South), who unearthed the story in connection with a reporting assignment for the Tampa Tribune, puts his extensive research to good dramatic use. But the book gets muddled by an immense cast of characters and derailed by the author's penchant for an overly lyrical style (the Latin Quarter "was all a symphony of Latin jazz and sinners and bright-eyed boys who shined your shoes for ten cents"). Still, blurbs from Carl Hiaasen and other top names, plus crossover from true-crime fans, should help ensure healthy sales. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Atkins, who wrote an award-winning series of Tampa Tribune articles on real-life gangster Charlie Wall, uses the Mob boss' 1955 murder as a launching point for an atmospheric tale of turf war between Sicilian and Cuban gangsters in Tampa's Latin Quarter. The murder of the aging, semiretired Wall begins the story, which follows the efforts of a cynical reporter and a determined cop to peel away a multileveled cover-up and expose the truth. Atkins layers on the plotlines and the historical detail--scenes in Tampa's legendary cigar factories, even a road trip to Havana--and, despite a subplot or two too many, it all holds together just fine. The real appeal here, though, is the Latin Quarter itself--white suits, cafe con leche, bebop in sultry bars, and that heady aroma of cigar smoke mixed with corruption. James Ellroy's Black Dahlia hits some of the same notes on the opposite coast, but Atkins, also author of the Nick Travers mystery series, plays his own tune, and it puts Tampa on the crime-fiction map. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425214907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425214909
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,511,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
WHITE SHADOW is a very different work for Ace Atkins, who has garnered critical and popular acclaim with his Nick Travers novels, a very readable series featuring a protagonist who is by turns a music professor and a somewhat reluctant private eye. What we have here is a more serious, much darker worldview.

It is a fictionalized account of the infamous and unsolved Charlie Wall murder, which occurred in Tampa, Florida in 1955. Wall, a one-time criminal kingpin specializing in the areas of bootlegging and illegal gambling, was found bludgeoned to death in his home, putting the city in an uproar and causing the ethically challenged police department to shift into overdrive to determine who was behind the deed. There was a surfeit of suspects, given that Wall had made a number of enemies, particularly among the Cuban and Sicilian gangsters who maintained a de facto control of the streets of Tampa while warily vying with and eying each other.

The narrative of the crime and its subsequent investigation are presented from different points of view. The primary of these are L.B. Turner, a reporter for The Tampa Daily Times, and Ed Dodge, a tough city detective who clings to ethics and truth in a sea full of sharks. There are others, however, including a beautiful young woman with a quiet, smoldering passion for revenge, and criminals who have various reasons for rejoicing in Wall's death, even as they work at cross-purposes. For even as Wall's murder is investigated, it has repercussions that quietly but surely affected events on an international scale --- even to this day --- among people and within places that did not even know of Charlie Wall's flamboyant existence and brutal end.
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Format: Hardcover
WOW! Whattabook! It's hard to grab all of the adjectives needed to praise this novel. Just read it!

This could be the best fictionalized non-fiction telling of more recent Florida History since `A Land Remembered' by Patrick Smith.

It covers Tampa, Ybor City and Gibsonton history. Most of the figures in the story are real: Charlie Wall, Santo Trafficante, Hampton Dunn, George Raft, Fidel Castro, etc. Ace Atkins ties all of this together with a narrative that puts you at the scene in `54. It's a terrific book!

Many folks do not know of Florida's rampant ongoing crimewave that goes back to the 1500s and that thief Desoto. Mob activity has been but a small part of it all. Atkins really brings it alive. There are no flamingos on the beach in this novel. Then again there are no flamingos on any beach in Florida. Here's an opportunity to visit the REAL Florida, circa 1954.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a crime story set in Tampa, Florida, in 1955. It is a transition period. The older crime bosses are aging and noting that the ways of doing business are changing. Events are coming to a boil in Cuba. The story is based on real incidents and involves news reporters, police, criminals, and Cubans. There are some scenes set in Havans. Fidel Castro makes an appearance late in the story.

A retired crime boss has been murdered in his home. The police seek a motive and a killer. He had information that could be damaging to many people. There are questions about what happened to the information and about who he was talking to. It can be dangerous if an old man gets drunk and rambles on about what he knows.

The story moves back and forth between news reporters, police, criminal elements, and the Cubans (particularly a young woman refugee). Some of the police are on the take, and some of the criminal elements are not playing by the rules. News reporters investigate at their peril, and Cubans form their own society.

Some people get what they deserve. others walk away clean, and there are questions about betrayal of establishments and betrayal of ideals. The retired crime boss leaves behind some messages.

The novel was a nominee for the 2007 Barry Award for best mystery novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know Ace Adkins through his rich tapestries of mystery and blues from the Mississippi delta in the Nick Travers series, but didn't realize he'd written a few standalone historical fiction novels - including "White Shadow." And let me tell you, I've been missing out on a literary treat. "White Shadow" is a brilliantly written: humid, moody, mysterious - classic crime noir that perfectly captures the Golden Age of this genre in which it is set. Yes, it's a bit long, detailed, and complex, but it captures in words the mood and spirit of the era as well as Bogart and Bacall could do it in a grainy back-and-white film.

The scene is Tampa, 1955, the setting the true story of Charlie Wall, a local legend of organized crime during prohibition, brutally murdered in his Tampa home in a crime that was never solved. Adkins tells the story through LB Turner, a young and tenacious reporter for the struggling Tampa Times. "It's all cigar smoke and light and shadows and ticking Hamilton watches and the smell of the salty bay blowing over forgotten crime scenes" in this gem of a novel - the meticulous research beaten only by a gritty cast of loners and losers, of mobsters, murderers and movers-and-shakers. From the cigar factories of Tampa's Ybor City to Havana's pre-Castro Cuba's swanky clubs and lavish hotels - of Myron Lansky and George Raft - to the winter home of a traveling carnival, Adkins simply nails it: prose so steamy you can smell the blood and rum and sex. And plenty of it.

"White Shadow" is one of those rare novels that educates while it entertains.
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