Reviewed by Allen Hott
It appears as though Ace Atkins has introduced a new character, Quinn Colson, who will be appearing in future stories as the sheriff of Tibbehah County, Alabama. If you have never read any of Atkins’ work, this would be a good one to start with. Some of his writing seems to drag at times but overall his books are very good and will hold your interest to the end.
Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger, is on leave and has gone back to his northern Alabama home to do some checking out. Seems as though his family like many country families in that area has kind of come apart. His uncle, Hampton, was the sheriff of the county until he recently passed away. Supposedly all evidence points to suicide but Quinn does not believe that. Quinn was practically raised by Hampton after Quinn’s father left for brighter lights as a Hollywood stuntman. Quinn’s mother who had been very friendly with her brother-in-law over the years had recently told Quinn that she was not at all friendly with Hampton anymore and didn’t want him around at all. She has enough problems of her own with an unwed daughter who has left her child with Quinn’s mother to raise. And she feels Hampton was into a lot of questionable acts.
Quinn, however, is intent upon finding out what is going on in the county and he early on runs into Johnny Stagg who is in many ways now running the county. He and Quinn were never overly friendly as Stagg was a man devoted to his own interests. He has been very successful now and not only owns most of the land. He immediately tells Quinn that Quinn’s Uncle Hampton died owing Stagg a lot of money and that he had basically deeded over his land to Stagg. Although there do not seem to be any written records to that most folks believe it to be true as they all knew that Hampton had become a notorious gambler and lost money faster than he made it.
While Quinn tries to find out about this “stinking kettle of fish” he meets up with a young pregnant girl who is searching for the father of her child. It appears that “Jody” as she knows him is part of a white supremacy group that is building to create problems for Uncle Sam and the government. That group is headed by a man named Gowrie who is an outsider to the county and not only is building his forces but also is running a huge country style meth lab for servicing the entire area up as far as Memphis.
As Quinn gets deeper and deeper into the area’s activities he finds that one of his old friends is now sheriff and his old girlfriend is married to the local doctor who is also an old friend. More and more happenings take Quinn on quite a journey for a guy who is only supposedly home on a five day leave from his Ranger duties.
The concept of the book is really well done and the story line carries the reader deep into the Northern Mississippi countryside with writing that makes that reader feel he is a part of the story. The dialogue for the most part is short and clipped with true southern feeling. The ending isn’t quite what is expected but it is not out of range of belief. In today’s world anything can…and does happen!!!! Interesting read overall.