cover image Memphis Ribs

Memphis Ribs

Gerald Duff, Author Salvo Press $12.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-9664520-1-3

Pale-eyed, sandy-haired, ""just on the edge of... redneck,"" Memphis homicide detective J.W. Ragsdale eats and banters his way through a rollicking if unoriginal tale of drugs, death and the redemptive powers of barbecue pork. On the eve of Memphis's big f te, the Cotton Carnival, a group of apparently unconnected people are murdered. Wealthy white socialite Aires Saxon, father of this year's Cotton Maid, is found dead at home, his bodyguard dozing upstairs. A drunken, white conventioner is stabbed at a cash machine, and three small-time, black street dealers are shot to death on Baby Street. When he realizes that sleuthing at the Saxons' Mississippi plantation will also allow him to satisfy his yen for catfishing at state expense, Ragsdale is off and running. The story that unfolds won't be unfamiliar to veteran mystery fans, but Duff retells it with gusto and humor. And when it comes to describing the flavor of barbecue as well as the sights and sounds of a festival, Duff gives Calvin Trillin a run for his money. Duff's also got the local dialect and dialogue down cold. With writing so good, however, readers may leave wishing he'd take on something more substantial next time out. (June)