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St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781429902540272 Pages
Distilled in Texas and the Delta, a straight-no-chaser crime novel set around the legendary Dixie Mafia
Manfred Eugene "Hog" Webern, a retired Dallas County deputy sheriff, is talked into going undercover in Biloxi, Mississippi, in a multistate effort to nail a group of traveling Southern criminals who have been tagged by the press with the lurid name "Dixie Mafia." After making contact with the gang's nominal leader, the notorious Jasper Sparks, Webern begins to worm his way into the group's confidence. He also meets and becomes involved with an old friend of Sparks, the mysterious Nell Bigelow, a former assistant federal prosecutor whose daddy "owns half the Delta."
Having gained the gang's trust, Webern soon learns that the score being planned is the massive robbery of a wintering carnival of an entire year's receipts. Joining in planning the job, he meets such well-known hijackers as Slops Moline, a Charleston, South Carolina, killer and armed robber; Lardass Collins, the country's premier car thief; Tom-Tom Reed, one of the world's most skilled safecrackers; and the infamous Raymond "Hardhead" Weller, an Alabama-born moonshiner who has pulled off more than two dozen high-profile contract killings in his seventy years.
As the story develops, Webern is drawn into a maelstrom of robbery, mayhem, and senseless violence that threatens to engulf his very being. And before the final curtain falls on The Sweet and the Dead, we learn that in the murky world of Southern professional crime, nothing is ever quite what it seems to be.
Praise for The Rogues' Game
"Milton Burton has written a first novel that has the stiletto edge of Raymond Chandler's best prose and the full-metal-jacket brass of Mickey Spillane's early novels."
"A rollicking debut...Burton's nuanced depiction of the post–World War II era is a delight."
"This stunningly mature, layered first novel from an author who knows Texas and people in equally fine measure."
---Booklist (starred review)
"An auspicious debut: tricky, amusing, even edifying, without a single dull page."
---Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A highly readable novel…Burton shows the skullduggery, swindling, and violence that enliven boom towns....An affectionate and accurate portrait of Texas."
---The Washington Post
"The Rogues' Game is vintage stuff, fun to read and recalls the salad days of 1940s noir writers such as James Cain and Dashiell Hammett."
---The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This dark first novel will appeal to fans of noir mysteries."
"An impressive debut."
When I first saw Jasper Sparks it was just before Christmas of 1970, and he was settled in between two good-looking young hookers at his favorite corner booth at Sam Lodke's Gold Dust Lounge down in Biloxi, Mississippi....