Ace Atkins' latest gritty crime novel, The Lost Ones, takes readers into the heart of Mississippi, where industry has pulled out, men have returned home from years in foreign wars, damaged in spirit and body, to find few jobs waiting. Religion or drinking offer the best opportunities for enjoyment. It's a situation where drugs and crime could flourish.
After ten years serving as a Ranger in Afghanistan, Quinn Colson isn't even thirty. But, he returned home to Tibbeha County, Mississippi, where he cleaned up one mess, and now he's the sheriff. He has a small department of just nine, after he kicked out a number of dishonest cops. He can count on Chief Deputy Lillie Virgil to keep him honest, even when he has to deal with the County Supervisors who seem to have their fingers in a few too many pies.
Quinn was a hellraiser as a kid, but he straightened out, thanks to Uncle Sam. That's not necessarily true for a few other veterans that returned home. Boom Kimbrough came home with one arm. Now, he drinks and starts fights in bars. Donnie Varner came home, runs a shooting range and a gun shop, but he's interested in something bigger. When he runs into a hot woman working in a carnival, Donnie agrees to supply her friends with some guns. How about one hundred guns to a group of Mexicans? It isn't long before an ATF agent shows up saying the Mexican cartels are sending buyers into Mississippi, a state not exactly known for strict gun laws.
Now Quinn has two big problems in his county, illegal sales of guns, and the illegal trafficking of children. Those two cases are somehow linked, and Quinn and his department aren't happy with either problem in their county.
The Lost Ones is the second novel to feature Quinn Colson, following The Ranger. This one easily stands on its own. I didn't read the first one, and had no problem picking up this story. It's a dark story, reflective of the current situation in the country. Veterans are returning home after long years in the service, to find no jobs. And, small rural counties will have a number of returning vets, since young men went for money and for patriotism.
Ace Atkins has created realistic characters, and provided heroes in the form of Quinn Colson and his deputies. The Lost Ones is a dark novel, with multiple stories, people who can't necessarily be trusted, and a few points where law enforcement is not just black and white. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Lee Child's Jack Reacher. But, Quinn Colson has returned home to straighten out Tibbehan County, Mississippi.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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