Atkins' new novel satisfies on several levels

Lafayette County’s Ace Atkins puts history and mystery together with his seventh novel, “Devil’s Garden.”
Perhaps the over-50 crowd may be the only folks to remember anything about silent-movie icon Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. And that may be just a fleeting memory of a juvenile, school-yard joke of pre-pubescence about an actor so fat that he fatally injured a female sex partner during “the act.”
It’s an odd subject, on the surface, for Atkins to take on, but it works with a fast-moving tale of the movie industry, crime and personalities.
Atkins, a former award-winning newspaper reporter, is very successful in painting the scenes and scapes of his tales. And he has a masterful ability to craft characters you really get attached to.
He’s done so in “Devil’s Garden” as he writes his own view of what happened with Arbuckle, his unseemly entourage and the lives of the people affected by the scandal, which rocked Hollywood and ruined his career.
What I also like about Atkins’ books is their suitability for weekend, travel or vacation reading. You can just dive in there, fulfill your fiction deficits and discover the full story with pleasure.
When I opened the book, I wondered why in the world Atkins would select a near-forgotten film star’s fall from grace as his central conflict.
But, as I moved through the pages, it became clear it was just a great story with interesting characters, with all their foibles and fame.
This book also strikes an appropriate balance between the graphic truth of the scandal, violence and its historical setting.
It’s a grown-up’s book, but it’s not overpowering for most of us.
And if you haven’t read any of Atkins’ early works, do so. Very good reads, for sure.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or


Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

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