This is one of those books where the author let facts get in the way of a good story.

It's based on the true crime story of the murder of Charlie Wall in 1955.Wall was a local legend in Tampa and a retired gangster who was found in his home after suffering a brutal beating and getting his throat cut.This historical fiction takes us through the investigation and how it involved local gangsters, the Sicilian Mafia, newspapermen, crooked cops, movie stars, Cubans and Cuban exiles like an idealistic lawyer named Fidel Castro.

Ace Atkins used a couple of composite characters involved with the Wall murder to describe a bygone era, and it’s very well researched.Unfortunately, the Wall murder was never officially solved and Atkins sticks close enough to real story that it comes across more as a chaotic look at a bunch of eccentric characters rather than a coherent storyline.I’m not sure why journalist Atkins didn’t just write a non-fiction account rather than going the historical fiction route if he didn’t want to break away from the real story.

As a bonus on this, I listened to the audio version which included Atkins talking about how he got interested in and researched this story as well as a few recollections from some of the people who were actually involved.