Memphis Luck

Gerald Duff. Brash, $14.99 trade paper (276p) ISBN 978-0-997832-39-6

In Duff’s initially slow-burning sequel to 1999’s Memphis Ribs, wisecracking Memphis police detectives J.W. Ragsdale and Tyrone Walker look into what appears to be a home robbery that went wrong and left an elderly woman dead. The pair get on the trail of Randall Eugene McNeil (aka Do Run Run), an autistic high school student who converses with the ghosts of Martin Luther King Jr. and singer Ricky Nelson. Sidestepping the gangbangers who are trying to lure him into a life of crime, Do Run Run is drawn to preacher Jimbo Reynolds’s new cowboy-themed church, unaware that Jimbo is a scam artist with mounds of cash stashed in his safe room. Meanwhile, a quartet of ex-cons are scheming to steal Jimbo’s ill-gotten gains. This black comedy eventually catches fire as Ragsdale and Tyrone zero in on the ex-cons en route to the mayhem-filled climax. Fans of laid-back mysteries with a strong regional flavor will be rewarded. (July)