Mary McCoy's Reviews > Wicked City

Wicked City by Ace Atkins
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Jun 25, 2008

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A sleazy hive of bootlegging, illegal gambling halls, houses of prostitution, political corruption, and dirty cops who turned a blind eye, Look magazine called Phenix City, Alabama the "wickedest city in America." The town's innocent citizens were too afraid to challenge the status quo until 1954, when the Democratic candidate for attorney general, a reformer named Albert Patterson was gunned down in an alley by persons unknown.

Patterson's death marked the beginning of the end for that status quo. It was too egregious, too much of a finger in the eye to ignore, and it was undeniable proof that the good could not live alongside the wicked in Phenix City and do nothing.

Though Atkins's account is fictionalized, the major events are true and many of the principal characters are real. In a short note that prefaces the novel, Atkins writes, "No author could ever exaggerate the sin, sleaze, and moral decay of Phenix City, Alabama, in the fifties or the courage of the people who stood up to fight it."

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