Devil's advocate 

Atlanta author debuts with detective thriller

David Fulmer doesn't want to be categorized as just a mystery author. Sure, the Atlanta writer's debut novel, Chasing the Devil's Tail (published this month by Poisoned Pen Press), unfolds a gritty detective story set in 1907 New Orleans, but Fulmer resists the limiting designation of genre fiction.

"I never considered myself a mystery writer and wouldn't want to be pigeonholed in that category now," the author says. "But that time and place just seemed perfect for a mystery."

Fulmer, whose previous endeavors range from video production to race-car driving, became interested in the Storyville section of New Orleans while writing a newspaper piece on early jazz musician Buddy Bolden, who appears in the novel in fictitious form. In the book, Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr tracks a serial killer who marks his prostitute victims with a black rose.

Fulmer calls himself a fan of mystery writers like James Lee Burke, but not the "little old lady" detective stories like those of Agatha Christie. And Chasing the Devil's Tail, he says, is more than a mystery.

"I'm looking for something beyond a whodunit. I wanted to do a story on New Orleans while the birth of jazz was going on. That Storyville setting was so attractive because it was so unique in American history. There's never been anything like it before and there never will be again."

Getting the historical details of Storyville just right required extensive research, Fulmer says, not to mention the task of working out the crime. For those reasons, the author is open to doing a sequel -- should there be a demand -- but doesn't want to be limited to the mystery genre forever.

"This is not going to turn into a lifelong series," he says. "This is not going to be like 'M is for Whatever'."

David Fulmer will read and sign copies of Chasing the Devil's Tail Mon., Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ponce de Leon branch of the Atlanta Fulton County Public Library, 980 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-885-7820.

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