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Honky-Tonk Girl

Charles Beckman (Author)

Honky-Tonk Street—a dark, lonely, sordid edge of town where doom and despair reign supreme—a place where Johnny Nickles and the members of his jazz band are playing hot sets in seedy clubs among the whores, winos, and grifters who make up the denizens of the district.

But a killer is stalking Johnny and his band, and Johnny finds himself trapped in a deadly game of chicken with local power broker Sam Cowles, his corrupt lackey Sheriff Botello, and a deadly professional thug for hire. What’s worse, the group’s mysterious Ghost Album, which memorializes and recreates classic jazz songs by long-dead masters of the art, has become almost a curse to the performers.

This is a haunting, forgotten classic of the noir crime novel. We can feel the world closing in on Johnny Nickles; we can almost hear the moody jazz riffs and cool music background tightening around his neck. Beckman’s text beats a worthy accompaniment to the harsh tempo of Johnny’s downward spiral. In this novel jazz is not merely a background to the noir setting, it’s a flesh and blood thing rich with a texture that runs deep and true throughout the story. Beckman knows his stuff, and struts it as masterfully as any jazzman playing a hot solo to a packed house.

It doesn’t get much better than this. First publication in almost six decades.

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