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Crossroad Blues (Nick Travers #1)

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Where in mystery fiction is a blues hero? You can find him in New Orleans, Louisiana, living in his battered 1920s warehouse or playing harmonica at JoJo's Blues Bar in the French Quarter. His name is Nick Travers, an ex-New Orleans Saint turned blues historian at Tulane University. And this time he's headed deep into the heart of the blues - the Mississippi Delta. In Augu ...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 1998)
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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
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!
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
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
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.
False Millennium
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
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
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
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
Tony Sannicandro
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!
Bruce Snell
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
Two and a half stars. Not great, maybe not even good. But competent, and I did finish it. Undecided if I'll try another of his. I've heard good things, but this one wasn't impressive.
Joshua Rubin
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
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
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
Donna Sannicandro
An interesting book that mixes some blues history/legend with a murder.
Hope McCormick
Was a bit strange at first, but I got into it later. Plan to read more in the series.
Allen Reese
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
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
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
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!
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.
A big disappointment after The Ranger.

I appreciate the attempt to tie in Robert Johnson; the blues history stuff was cool.

But the villains weren't very interesting or believable, the handling of race was a little qustionable, It just didn't hold my interest.
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...
John Machata
First Novel. Author bound for greatness,but not great yet. Simultaneously too much and too little throughout the book. Way too complex a plot with too many characters, none developed enough for my taste. That said, thanks Ace. Keep 'em coming.
This book was a little better: good action, great characters, and when you have some blues in the background it all fits like the pieces of a well designed puzzle! Definitely worth a read if you love the blues and New Orleans :)
New Orleans. The Blues. Mississippi Delta. Hunky ex-pro football player protag. Good story. Interesting characters. Nicely written. What's not to like? I'm looking forward to the second book in this series.
Larry James
A fast-paced mystery plot while giving rich insights into the Mississippi Delta, the blues and the colorful characters who created this music.
Raina (Tea'N'Crackers) Kolstrup
We just discovered this series and have gone on a hunt for the rest of them. For once, we started with the first one.
Pat Harris
I wanted to like this even more than I did. Good sense of place, interesting characters. I will try another.
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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
Robert B. Parker's Lullaby (Spenser, #40) Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (Spenser, #41) The Ranger (Quinn Colson, #1) Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot (Spenser, #42) The Lost Ones (Quinn Colson, #2)

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