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Huddy Marr, the proprietor of Bluff City Pawn shop in Memphis, is good at what he does: he knows jewelry, he knows guns and guitars. But the neighborhood is changing: A blood bank is set to open across the street from the retail space he leases from his brother Joe, and Huddy wants to move to a less seedy part of town. A pawn shop should stay right on the edge of seedy.
When a longtime client dies, his widow calls Huddy to come appraise his considerable gun collection. If he can buy up the guns, Huddy knows he can make a killing, possibly change his fortunes for good. But he needs cash up front, and for that he needs Joe. Soon the restless youngest, Harlan, is also involved—they could use the manpower to move the haul—and slowly the brothers' old family dynamics reassert themselves.
There is trouble inherent in these wares. There is trouble inherent in this family. And there is something inherent to Memphis . . . something that means a change of fortune can't come easy.
Stephen Schottenfeld's first novel is a masterful depiction of a city, a business, and a family. It is an investigation of class and law, ownership and value, loyalty, betrayal, and blood; one that gathers power and resonates long after it's done.