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Ace Atkins discusses "Infamous"

From: Steven Nester
Series: Poets of the Tabloid Murder
Length: 29:45

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Ace Atkins is the author of eight novels. He lives on a farm in Mississippi. Read the full description.

Atkins_small With the 1933 kidnapping of Oklahoma oil baron Charles Urschel, small-time bank robber George Kelly became “Machine Gun” Kelly. Atkins’ latest historical novel based on a real crime (following Devil’s Garden, 2009, about the Fatty Arbuckle scandal) makes it clear that Kelly’s wife, Kathryn, was the driving force behind his ascendance. George is shown to be an affable mug, a feckless dandy more interested in two-toned shoes and 16-cylinder Cadillacs than crime and machine guns, a crook who was dismissed as a lightweight by other gangsters. Kathryn, however, is a force of nature, a preening, determined-not-to-be-poor-again shopaholic, a celebrity-obsessed Lady Macbeth. But it’s Atkins’ prodigious research that makes this novel a compelling road trip through Depression-era America. He vividly portrays the Dust Bowl, foreclosures, the grinding poverty, gnawing hunger, desperation, and the rage at bankers (most of which resonate in today’s America); and he captures the imminent end of the gangsters’ heyday. Like many fine historical crime novels, Infamous offers a window on society, then and now.

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Piece Description

With the 1933 kidnapping of Oklahoma oil baron Charles Urschel, small-time bank robber George Kelly became “Machine Gun” Kelly. Atkins’ latest historical novel based on a real crime (following Devil’s Garden, 2009, about the Fatty Arbuckle scandal) makes it clear that Kelly’s wife, Kathryn, was the driving force behind his ascendance. George is shown to be an affable mug, a feckless dandy more interested in two-toned shoes and 16-cylinder Cadillacs than crime and machine guns, a crook who was dismissed as a lightweight by other gangsters. Kathryn, however, is a force of nature, a preening, determined-not-to-be-poor-again shopaholic, a celebrity-obsessed Lady Macbeth. But it’s Atkins’ prodigious research that makes this novel a compelling road trip through Depression-era America. He vividly portrays the Dust Bowl, foreclosures, the grinding poverty, gnawing hunger, desperation, and the rage at bankers (most of which resonate in today’s America); and he captures the imminent end of the gangsters’ heyday. Like many fine historical crime novels, Infamous offers a window on society, then and now.