Dunbar, Tony 1949- (Anthony P. Dunbar)

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Dunbar, Tony 1949- (Anthony P. Dunbar)


Born June 11, 1949, in Atlanta, GA; son of Leslie W. and Peggy Dunbar; married Penny Elizabeth Campbell, 1975. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., 1972; attended Tulane University School of Law.


Home—Nashville, TN.


Worker with civil rights and community development organizations in Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Kentucky, 1964-70; director of Southern Prison Ministry, 1972-78.


Lillian Smith Award, Southern Regional Council, 1971, for Our Land Too.



Crooked Man, Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.

City of Beads, Putnam (New York, NY), 1995.

Trick Question, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.

Shelter from the Storm, Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.

The Crime Czar, Dell (New York, NY), 1998.

Lucky Man, Dell (New York, NY), 1999.

Tubby Meets Katrina, NewSouth Books (Montgomery, AL), 2006.


(Under name Anthony P. Dunbar) The Will to Survive: A Study of a Mississippi Plantation Community, Based on the Words of Its Citizens, Southern Regional Council (Atlanta, GA), 1969.

Our Land Too, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1971.

(With Linda Kravitz) Hard Traveling: Migrant Farm Workers in America, Ballinger (Cambridge, MA), 1976.

(Under name Anthony P. Dunbar) Against the Grain: Southern Radicals and Prophets, 1929-1959, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1981.

Delta Time: A Journey Through Mississippi, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1990.


Contributor to New South and other periodicals.


Tony Dunbar's fictional detective Tubby Dubonnet is a New Orleans lawyer. A simple man at heart, Dubonnet finds his life constantly complicated by mysteries, and by the romantic misadventures of his ex-wife and three daughters. In the first Dubonnet novel, Crooked Man, a drug dealer hides almost a million dollars in Tubby's office. A Publishers Weekly reviewer lauded the book as "a deliciously witty caper through the idiosyncratic landscape of New Orleans…. Cleverly convoluted and amusing." Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times approved of the sense of place in Crooked Man, calling it "so thick you can smell the chicory in the French roast coffee." She also enjoyed the humor in the book, concluding: "If there's a moral in this frantic farce, it's that the law is a joke, and if justice happens—well, that can be a hoot, too." Dunbar followed his first in the series with City of Beads, in which Dubonnet struggles to earn a decent living, and in so doing, finds that three of his cases are starting to overlap in a dangerous way, particularly since one of the jobs has him working for the Mob. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly, commented that "Dunbar weaves together the many strands of his highly entertaining tale with much skill and wit."

Another Dubonnet novel, Trick Question, was not quite as well-received. This tale involves Tubby in a medical mystery involving the frozen head of famous researcher. Booklist contributor Alan Moores assessed: "If Dunbar pulls his punches a bit here and there, this is still a clean, quick read with nice dabs of New Orleans color." A Publishers Weekly writer found that "Dunbar's easy style keeps the mystery moving, with amusing peeks into Tubby's chaotic life (he's divorced, his ex-wife wants him to be pals with her new man and his unwed daughter is pregnant) and frequent visits to New Orleans restaurants, where Tubby is on intimate terms with the menus."

Shelter from the Storm was seen as a stronger offering by several reviewers. This book draws on one of New Orleans most famous traditions, the Mardi Gras celebration. Shelter from the Storm is, in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "the best book in the series," praising Dunbar's evocation of a disastrous rainstorm and the Mardi Gras. "Unlike other books set in New Orleans," commented the writer, "the atmosphere isn't painted by the numbers. In conjuring up the havoc that a few days of relentless rain could wreak on the city's fragile infrastructure, the author convinces the reader to care about its fate." Wes Lukowsky, in a contribution for Booklist, commented: "The fourth Dubonnet novel traces the same tongue-in-cheek path as its predecessors. It's packed with local color, whimsy, and witty dialogue, though with a dark edge. A good series that gets better with each entry."

Lucky Man has Tubby facing one frustration after another, from his secretary's resignation the district attorney threatening him with dirt on his daughter. Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky wrote: "If readers don't know Tubby, they should." In Tubby Meets Katrina, Dunbar acknowledges the tragedy of hurricane Katrina and the damage wrought to the city of New Orleans. Tubby returns home from Bolivia the day before the hurricane hits the city. He spends the night, anticipating the normal amount of damage the next day, only to discover that the water levels in the city have started to rise. During his attempts to evacuate, Tubby runs into a prison escapee, and the situation goes from bad to desperate as the criminal takes Tubby's daughter hostage. Dunbar told Susan Larson of the Times-Picayune Online: "I really wanted to put down on paper what happened to people who stayed. I had to get Katrina out of my system. But the hardest part of writing this book was to picture how it might end." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked: "Dunbar scores an even more decisive bull's eye in his account of the disaster-after the disaster."



Booklist, January 1, 1997, Alan Moores, review of Trick Question, p. 824; January 1, 1998, Wes Lukowsky, review of Shelter from the Storm, p. 780; November 19, 1999, Wes Lukowsky, review of Lucky Man, p. 607.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2006, review of Tubby Meets Katrina, p. 548.

New York Times, January 22, 1995, Marilyn Stasio, review of Crooked Man, p. 30.

Publishers Weekly, November 21, 1994, review of Crooked Man, p. 70; October 9, 1995, review of City of Beads, p. 79; December 2, 1996, review of Trick Question, p. 44; November 17, 1997, review of Shelter from the Storm, p. 55.


Times-Picayune Online,http://www.nola.com/ (April 26, 2006), Susan Larson, "In ‘Tubby Meets Katrina,’ the First Novel Set in the Storm, Lawyer/Novelist Tony Dunbar Puts Forth Equal Shares of Comedy and Tragedy."

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