When asked to describe Robert B. Parker, Atkins said the late crime novelist was "the consummate pro. I was so impressed by his writing style, his distinctness and his ability to boil down a great story.'' In 2011, Atkins was handpicked by Parker's family to continue Parker's bestselling Spenser detective series, and his third installment, Cheap Shot, was published May 6 to rave reviews. Atkins, a former Auburn football player, started his writing career in Tampa Bay, first as a news correspondent for the then-St. Petersburg Times and later as a police reporter for the Tampa Tribune, where he earned a Pulitzer nomination for a feature series about an investigation into a long-ago Tampa murder. Part of the story became the core of his novel White Shadow (2006).
What's on your nightstand?
I've been out on book tour, and the strange thing about book tours is I've found it is the best time to read. I can't get on the laptop when I'm in airports. I don't read digital. I read paperbacks. I'm reading William Boyle's Gravesend. … It's a gritty Brooklyn crime novel. I'm really enjoying it. I'm also reading books by Richard Stark, a pseudonym for Donald Westlake, who wrote a series of books on a thief named Parker. They are just the best crime novels. I am devouring those books. … The first one is The Hunter. It was terrific.
I was curious, because of your Tampa connection, about whether you read Dennis Lehane's book about Ybor City, Live by Night?
I've heard very good things about it, and I've been wanting to, but no. That's because I have a story in my mind that I still want to write, and I want to tell the story without anything he's done to interfere with that. Maybe when I finish that, I'll read it.
Piper Castillo can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4163.