Ace Atkins - The Lost Ones
"...there is one tremendous shoot-out scene that had me reading in bed well beyond the time I normally turn off the light..."
After serving in Afghanistan, Quinn Colson returns to Tibbehah County, Mississippi, to become its sheriff, following in his father's footsteps. It isn't long before he is called to a house to find worrying scenes of child neglect. There are thirteen empty, filthy cribs and a shoebox full of money. Janet and Ramon Torres have disappeared, but Quinn is certain they'll return for the money. Meanwhile, his boyhood friend Donnie Varner is gun-running between the USA and Mexico, his drug and drink crazed sister has returned – cleaned up she says – and problems of a more personal nature, in the form of Dinah Brand, a Federal agent, and Lillie Virgil, his deputy, have to be dealt with.
I always look forward to reading an Ace Atkins novel, even though some of his dialogue – which no doubt accurately reflects the way people speak in America's Deep South – is sometimes impenetrable to my British ears. But that's no big deal, as his books are always meticulously plotted, well-written and eminently readable. Ace himself lives in the city of Oxford, Mississippi, so he knows the state, and the people living in it.
Not only that, he's the former crime reporter for the Tampa Tribune in Florida, so he also knows about the crime bosses, the drugs cartels, the wise guys, the hangers-on, the dangers, the major scams, and the American criminal mind.
The book is fast-paced with just enough calm moments (usually when Quinn is at home with his mom and family) for the readers to catch their collective breaths. The calm moments, however, are never short of tension, as Quinn can't let go. He sees no line between his private life and his job as sheriff. His concern for his sister Caddy provides a satisfying subplot, with, well into the book, an explanation as to why she is the way she is, and why Quinn feels guilty about her.
And there is one tremendous shoot-out scene that had me reading in bed well beyond the time I normally turn off the light and go to sleep!
Though not his best book, 'The Lost Ones' is still well above your average American 'sheriff's department' novel. Quinn is not a superhero – he is flawed, he has a back story which impinges on the way he operates, yet he is fair, dedicated, and has an innate sense of decency.
Reviewed by: J.G.