Thursday, August 30, 2012

River Bottom Blues by Ricky Bush

Most readers will find an unfamiliar world and vocabulary in Ricky Bush's mystery, River Bottom Blues. Stick with it. The world of blues music sucks you into this compelling story of a former reporter looking into the deaths of blues harmonica players.

Chicago in 1964 was part of the blues circuit, but the unsolved murders of blues harmonica musicians didn't arouse much attention. Their lives, with the traveling, the liquor, and the drugs, often led to violent death. But, when Mitty Andersen heard of the death of Bobby T in Houston in 2009, it was a different matter. Mitty had left the newspaper three years earlier. He had been an investigative reporter, but he covered the blues music scene for years, and he didn't accept that Bobby T had died of a heroin overdose. Mitty, like Bobby T, played blues harmonica. And, he knew Bobby T didn't shoot heroin.

It took Bobby Tarleton's widow and an ex-con to push Mitty into an investigation of his own. The Wizard, Michael Melton, was a guitarist who ended up in prison for killing a harmonica player, "a harp player", in Dallas. He claimed he didn't do it, and, after he was released, he showed up at Bobby T's funeral. When Mitty tracked him down, he heard a weird story about someone who had been killing harp players for years, someone who was killing "those who play the devil's music". And, determined to find Bobby T's killer, Mitty falls in with The Wizard's mad scheme to draw out the killer, with a traveling blues band and Mitty on harmonica.

Ricky Bush takes readers on a wild ride filled with music and legendary musicians in River Bottom Blues. If you just let go, you'll be swept up in the stories and the atmosphere. It's a story filled with violence, but it reflects the life of blues musicians. Former journalist Mitty Andersen is the perfect narrator for this glimpse into the blues circuit. River Bottom Blues is a crime novel, but, first, it's an atmospheric piece filled with a love of blues music.

(Note: I don't own any blues music, but DirecTV has a blues station on their music collection. Perfect background for reading River Bottom Blues.)

Ricky Bush's website is

River Bottom Blues by Ricky Bush.  Barking Rain Press. 2011. ISBN 9781935460282 (paperback), 176p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Charlotte said...

I just read your blog from Sunday. Question for
You, the books in the picture, are you going to be reading
all of them? Maybe you have read them and that is the
give away stack.
Pretty fur babies.

Jane R said...

The subject of this book is out of my realm. I know so little about the world of blues music and I know absolutely nothing about blues musicians. With that said, I love to read a book that broadens my knowledge and entertains at the same time. While this is definitely outside the box for me, it sounds like a book worth checking out. Thanks for the great review!

Lesa said...


Good question! That's a mix. Some of those books I've read; some I hope to get to, and some I know I'm not going to read, but I'll give them away. It's a mish mash. But, those piles are in order by the alphabet, so I can at least locate what I'm looking for! I am a librarian. (smile)

Lesa said...


I feel the same way you do, and I was a little overwhelmed when I started the book, knowing nothing about that world. But, I persevered, and got so caught up that I found that blues station to use as background. It was perfect. I could actually listen to some of the musicians I was reading about. Naturally, some were fictional, but there were a number of actual musicians included in the book.

Jane R said...

Listening to a blues station while reading this book is brilliant. What a great way to immerse yourself in that world! I love this idea and intend to give it a try myself.

Karen C said...

I enjoy listening to the blues but don't know anything about the musicians or the music - this sounds like a book that would help change that. Like Jane R said, this is outside the box for me, too.

Lesa said...


I just felt as if I was missing something as I read the book since I didn't have the right background. The music certainly added to it!

Lesa said...


You can tell from the author's bio at the end of the book that Ricky Bush really knows his blues history. You'd enjoy it if you already like the music.

Ann Elizabeth said...
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