cover image Infamous


Ace Atkins, read by Dick Hill, Tantor Media, unabridged, 11 CDs, 14 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4001-1566-2

In 1933, smalltime bank robber George "machine gun" Kelly, at the instigation of his wife, kidnapped Oklahoma oil man Charles Urschel and held him for ransom. Atkins's novel is a fictional look at that crime, which pushed Kelly into national attention and into gangster history. From the very beginning, when Kelly's car runs out of gas as he and his accomplice, during their getaway with Urschel, pressed into the floorboards of their car, the listener knows Kelly isn't exactly a criminal mastermind. Atkins chronicles the ensuing misadventures with expert period detail. Keeping up with him at every turn is veteran narrator Dick Hill, who recounts the story of the bungling kidnapper with a homespun delivery that perfectly captures the feel of Depression-era America. Fact and fiction combine with Hill's enjoyable performance to make for an entertaining and educational listen. A Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 22). (May)