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Crossroad Blues: A Nick Travers Mystery (Nick Travers #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  530 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews

With overwhelming acclaim from reviewers, readers, and peers alike, first-time novelist Ace Atkins hits a high note with Nick Travers, mystery fiction's first blues hero. An ex-football pro, Nick's days are now as languid as the Big Easy itself-he teaches the History of Blues at Tulane and occasionally plays the harmonica at JoJo's Blues Bar in the French Quarter. But when
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 15th 2000 by St. Martin's Minotaur (first published 1998)
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Oct 31, 2012 Lee rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best debut novels I've read. Nick Travers is one of the best mystery characters, I've come across. Cool,tough,funny...and knows his blues. A former pro football player, that now happens to teach Histoty of Blues at Tulane. With Atkins' research into blues history and the the mystery that surrounds Robert Johnson. The '30's blues legend. With the Delta landscape as a backdrop, the talk of the 'ol could hear the slide guitar and harp in the background.
To quote Kink
Mar 25, 2015 Maynard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
If you love music, especially the Blues, this book is for you. Ace Atkins centers his story on the mystery surrounding Blues legend Robert Johnson's death. It is is great ride through Louisiana and Mississippi, as clues slowly fall into place. A great read!
Aug 26, 2013 Cynthia rated it liked it
You'll definitely get a deep South vibe with this one. It is hot and steamy and ripples with prejudice and unrest. The mystery is multi-layered and the characters are both eccentric and likeable. I found the ending to be very satisfying and I look forward to more from this author.
Apr 09, 2015 Lesley rated it liked it
This book completely divided my book group, more so than I have ever seen before. Half of my group loved it and the other half hated it so much they didn't finish it and hardly wanted to discuss it. I was part of the group that enjoyed it, I would give it about 3.5 stars. It took me a while to get into the story and figure out who everyone was but once I did that I really enjoyed the characters and the story. What I think made the story even more enjoyable was the fact that much of it was based ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Joyce rated it really liked it
This was Ace Atkins' first novel and is a great read. Nick Travers is a Music Historian at Tulane and is investigating the disappearance of another Tulane Professor who was looking for information about along dead Blues Musician. It takes you into both Mississippi and New Orleans. The action, and background, are enticing and catch your interest immediately. This is well worth reading and will only make you want to read more of Atkins' fiction.
Victoria Allman
Sep 13, 2012 Victoria Allman rated it it was amazing
Crossroad Blues is the story of Nick Travers, an ex-New Orleans Saints player turned blues historian and his search for the lost recordings of Robert Johnson. This fast-paced mystery is a throwback to another era; not only 1938 and the murder of Robert Johnson after he sold his soul to the devil to be able to play the blues, but to an era of hard-boiled mysteries and dialogue that cracks like a whip.

Ace Atkins has captured a real sense of place with Crossroad Blues. It is set in both New Orlean
Apr 07, 2010 Maddy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1999-reads
Robert Johnson was a legendary blues figure who died under mysterious circumstances when he was 27. Music historians have always tried to figure out what happened. It appears that one of the music professors at Tulane University, Michael Baker, was chasing down a new lead in the Mississippi Delta. When he doesn’t return, one of the other professors, Dr. Randy Sexton, asks blues tracker Nick Travers to go and see if he can find out what happened.

Baker was indeed hot on the trail of some rumored u
Jan 16, 2016 Booknblues rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, series, blues, bnb
What would happen if there were nine unknown original recordings of Robert Johnson's work. Would there be intrigue, murder, back-stabbing and plans by glitzy glossy labels to market this work. Well we know stuff would happen and probably some unsavory stuff to help someone make money. This is Ace Atkins' premise. His hero, Nick Travers follows the trail to the Delta to Greenwood where it all began or ended depending on your perspective.
Atkins includes all the elements of blues - the glitzy blues
Bruce Snell
Sep 12, 2012 Bruce Snell rated it really liked it
Book number One in the Nick Travers series by Ace Atkins - 4 stars. This book is an excellent way to start this series (and Atkins career as a novelist). A mystery set in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta region - looking for the lost recordings of legendary blues-man Robert Johnson (and of course solving the murder of a professor who was also seeking those recordings). Of course we meet Nick Travers, former NFL defensive lineman, currently Professor of the History of Blues at Tulane, and pa ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Aggie rated it it was amazing
A fun, breezy mystery that is centered around the blues legend Robert Johnson and the myth that he made a deal with the devil to be the best blues singer in the world. The book is full of colorful characters, including a hitman who worships Elvis, an albino named Cracker, who knew Johnson, and the protagonist, Nick Travers, a blues historian, who is trying to find out if there really are undiscovered music recordings of Johnson that people are being murdered over.

This is a great read. And I prob
False Millennium
Nov 13, 2014 False Millennium rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
His first work of fiction. There is a musicologist who also goes off to investigate the lineage and lives of blues musicians, in this case some alleged unknown recordings of bluesman, Robert Johnson. I had to get all four of these first novels through an interlibrary loan system since two counties didn't have them available and I had to go further afield. I'm not saying his style is bad, starting off the gate, but having read his more contemporary works? I can say he's grown by leaps and bounds- ...more
Joshua Rubin
Nov 07, 2012 Joshua Rubin rated it did not like it
It is a mistake to use a work of fiction as a platform for minor pet peeves and personal passions. From an overblown reverence for the blues that reaches an embarrassingly sacred level to pretentious disdain for tourists, hipsters, and academics, this book is a bitch session for a schmuck. Oh god, and the character Elvis, and quoting Robert Johnson. I mean, I love Robert Johnson, he is very important to blues, but to quote the following lyrics, "I went down, I went down, I went down to the cross ...more
Scott E
Dec 18, 2008 Scott E rated it liked it
This is not a bad debut. I've read better, but that's not to say you should miss this one if you're into crime fiction, or series fiction. And especially if you have the slightest interest in Blues music. Atkins does a great job of bringing to life blues history from the 1930s. But that's also where it gets to be a bit of a stretch. The plot of Crossroad Blues turns on the search for lost Robert Johnson recordings. Unfortunately, Atkins isn't quite able to make me believe it (maybe you'll have b ...more
Todd Morr
Aug 08, 2013 Todd Morr rated it liked it
A noir novel about the blues? wow, sounds specifically written just for me, yet it never really kicked in for me. I kept thinking about the Ralph Maccio flick Crossroads, only Steve Vai never shows up in the book.

I never really bought the idea of a former pro football player ( with a ridiculous backstory) turned college professor, recognized by New Orleans locals as a legit bluesman(somehow while playing a pro sport and getting a doctorate he managed to master the blues harp) who also solves my
Alex Carbo
Jan 04, 2016 Alex Carbo rated it really liked it
Very solid first novel for Ace Atkins who submerge the reader in a New-Orleans scenery where you can almost feel the hot air, smell the cigarette smoke and alcohol, and hear the Delta Blues licks from Robert Johnson and all of his "influencees".
They're clearly are influences from Dan Brown on the way the story is told but I don't see that as a bad thing since Nick Travers is way more interesting than Brown's Langdon.
Read the first few pages and you'll want to finish the book with your back again
David Miller
Robert Johnson is the highlight of this book. His mysterious life and even more mysterious death form most of the plot. Aside from Johnson the book lacks interest and basically reads like a movie, with a definite movie ending. I have a prejudice that books (especially mysteries) written by authors who grew up watching television really aren't worth reading. This book confirms that prejudice. To give just one example, it is irredeemably, incredibly vulgar; I suppose it's a true reflection of the ...more
Richard Thompson
Jan 31, 2017 Richard Thompson rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-alouds, mystery
We've recently read all of Atkins' Quinn Colson novels, and decided to check out some his earlier works. This book, Atkins' first, was a disappointment. Perhaps Nick Travers improves as a character as Atkins gets his writer's legs under him, but in this book he is neither a very competent investigator or a very nice man.

The Mississippi Delta and New Orleans provided interesting backdrops to the story, as did the musical history of Delta Blues, but they weren't enough to carry the book.

This was b
Steve Black
Interesting idea, weaving a modern crime novel around a 1930 blues legend. I like blues and generally enjoyed the stories and snippets of lyrics, but occasionally it felt like I was sitting in an academic lecture.

There was a genuine atmosphere of the Deep South, then and now, and a decent plot, although the ending felt a bit rushed. I have read other Ace Atkins novels and this would be on a par. At some point I will pick up the Nick Travers series again, but I don't feel a need to read the whol
Mar 31, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it
A solid mystery story steeped in "the blues" and dealing with Robert Johnson and his mysterious death, among other things.

Atkins does a nice job of creating a "bluesy" atmosphere throughout, and the plot is nicely done. There were a few problems: the primary antagonist is overly quirky, and his affectations (he's obsessed with Elvis) didn't always work for me, and the "love interest" (a blues guitarist/singer) is quite one-dimensional.

Still, I enjoyed it quite a bit and will definitely read th
Allen Reese
Dec 23, 2012 Allen Reese rated it really liked it
I was drawn to further read Ace Atkins work after the latest 'Spenser' novel. Atkins was chosen by the Robert B. Parker estate to continue writing that popular series.
The two mysteries that are entertwined here are both engaging, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of JoJo's Place, and New Orleans in general. The only drawbacks for me were 1) a bit of unecessary language, and 2)the 'Elmore Leonard - like' nature of the Elvis worshiping character.
The highest praise I can offer is that I'm eager to find
Feb 13, 2015 Aerial rated it liked it
This book fulfilled my "book based on its cover" requirement for the 2015 book challenge. Going into this book, I had no expectations whatsoever.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was suspenseful and incorporated a lot of Blues history into it, which I liked. It dealt with the story of Robert Johnson which I thought was great.

The writing was somewhat hard to follow at times, and there were many incomplete sentences, which was a bit jarring, but seemed to fit the personality of the protagonist, a fo
About a modern day murder mystery connected to the 1930's murder of Robert Johnson (blues man). Entertaining, but not nearly as good a "Infamous". Infamous had a ring of authenticity and flow that seemed to be reached for here, but not touched. To be fair this is a much earlier novel. I guess I really should not compare something a still young guy did ten years ago to what he is doing today. I did really like the blues history that is such a major part of the book. I am reading Dirty South now b ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Steve rated it liked it
Ace Atkin's first novel, and 1st of 4 or 5 in the Travers series. Atkins now writes the Parker Spencer series, and even back at the time of this publication you could see similarities. You can also see what made the late Parker not worth the time - paint by number mysteries.

Enjoyable for the Blues/Robert Johnson connection. Lots of local Delta and NOLA (pre-Katrina) color, but doesn't feel like much. Since this is considered by many to be his best I doubt if I will be reading any others.

Don't r
Tony Sannicandro
Dec 31, 2014 Tony Sannicandro rated it liked it
Good book! Better book if you love Robert Johnson and the blues. This made me want to read more of Ace Atkins books. With all of the mystery surrounding Johnson I found my self thinking "Ya! That's sounds good , I can see that happening ". Love the swipe at House of Blues but it is true HOB is blues in name only. Read the book! And did you know Roberts Records were recorded at the wrong speed? Check it out on YouTube while you read the book!
Nov 06, 2015 Donna rated it liked it
I did enjoy the story, the setting and the characters. I also have some questions, like whatever did happen to the colleague? No one else seems to wonder about this. Also, it turns out that Nick realizes he is in love with Virginia. And then that goes nowhere, with no explanation. That doesn't ruin the story for me, but I think it would enhance it to include more detail on what happened with them.
Aug 27, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Early offering from one of Robert B. Parker's estate "legacy" authors...good fun with a dose of the "history of the Blues", especially background about Robert L. Johnson of "Crossroads" fame...Nick Travers, a Blues historian & Tulane lecturer, also a former Saints player is on the hunt for some missing recordings of Johnson...along the way tangles with a beautiful blues guitarist and plenty of bad guys!
Robert Palmer
Jun 06, 2015 Robert Palmer rated it really liked it
A very good mystery/crime novel that is also a short history of the Blues and the ledgend of a very real Blues artist Robert Johnson. As a mystery novel I would have to say it is the best I have read sense "the Maltese Falcon " by Dashiell Hammet which is saying a lot as I first read that book sometime in the 60s and I do read about 6 or 7 mystrey novels a year. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystrey stories or even if you don't.

Apr 10, 2010 Gord rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Man, does Ace Atkins ever know his delta blues history. In a story that weaves modern day NOLA together with the Mississippi delta blues scene from the 30's and 40's, I was mesmerized. Excellent read for any blues fan and your basic pot-boiler detective novel buffs should have some good fun as well. I can't wait for the next one.
Oct 16, 2015 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
I am an uneducated Blues fan -- but prefer it to Jazz ... however, clearly not a FAN as this book is written by a guy serious about the history of blues. Really like this author but ... I'm just a wuss.
Jun 06, 2012 Frederic rated it liked it
If the estate of Robert B.Parker hadn't chosen Atkins to continue the Spenser series with the terrific "Lullaby" I might never have 'discovered' him, which would have been my loss...this guy is great when channelling Parker and even better when being himself...
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Ace Atkins is the author of eight novels, including his latest, Infamous, from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

A former journalist who cut his teeth as a crime reporter in the newsroom of The Tampa Tribune, he published his first novel, Crossroad Blues, at 27 and became a full-time novelist at 30.

While at the Tribune, Ace earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a feature series based on his investigation into a
More about Ace Atkins...

Other Books in the Series

Nick Travers (4 books)
  • Leavin' Trunk Blues
  • Dark End of the Street
  • Dirty South

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