Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Heathens - Ace Atkins


The Heathens
is the eleventh novel in Ace Atkins’s Sheriff Quinn Colson series. The series began in 2011 with The Ranger, and Atkins has added a new novel to the series every year since the first one. That is a fairly standard schedule for most series authors, but the remarkable thing about Atkins is that he has been able to keep to his book-a-year schedule even after having been tapped by the Robert B. Parker estate to continue Parker’s outstanding Spenser series of books. Since 2012 Atkins has added ten new novels to that forty-nine-book series. 


As The Heathens opens, Sheriff Quinn Colson is in a good place. He and Maggie have a new baby girl, and Quinn is closer than ever to Brandon, Maggie’s little boy. Maggie, a nurse, and the children have brought new life to the old family farm Quinn has lived on his whole life. Now almost forty years old, Quinn is a genuinely happy man for the first time in his life. Some things, however, never change — and the Byrd family is one of those things. It seems like something is always going on with the Byrds that requires the sheriff’s attention. If it’s not Gina Byrd, a drug addict who regularly suffers physical abuse at the hands of the men in her life, it’s TJ, Gina’s sixteen-year-old daughter, who is accused of petty theft or fighting again. 


But it won’t be so simple this time. Now, Gina Byrd has disappeared, and after her body is found and TJ and her boyfriend Ladarius become suspects in the murder, the teens and TJ’s nine-year-old brother hit the road, always just barely one step ahead of the law. The problem is that Quinn is not the only one chasing them — and not all the chasers are interested in keeping the kids alive long enough to figure out exactly what happened to Gina Byrd. 


Among the chasers is Lillie Virgil, a former deputy of Quinn’s who is now a U.S. Marshal. Unlike Quinn, Lillie is already convinced that TJ and Ladarius are guilty of murder and she is determined to catch up with them. So while Lillie chases the teens from state to state, Quinn investigates the case from Tibbeha County, Mississippi. And the more he learns, the more he is convinced that TJ and Ladarius had nothing to do with the murder of TJ’s mother. The problem is that someone very much wants to see TJ and Ladarius dead rather than in a jail cell. Now, he and Lillie need to catch up with the runaways before their Bonnie-and-Clyde-like chase ends up just like the original one. 


Bottom Line: Longtime readers of the Quinn Colson series feel comfortable in the Tibbeha County setting, and they will enjoy again catching up with their favorite characters (even the bad guys). By this point, the sheriff has done much to clean up the county corruption the former sheriff, Quinn’s own uncle, more often than not turned a blind eye to, but there’s still a lot to do. Some things just never seem to change. 


Ace Atkins

Review Copy provided by Publisher

10 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of this series, and it certainly sounds good. I love finding a series that already has plenty of books!

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    1. I agree, Jen...that's always kind of exciting. If you like the first book, it's really a good feeling to know that there are a whole bunch more in the series and you don't have to wait to enjoy them.

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  2. I read several of these books years ago when the series started. I was interested originally because they are set in the area where I grew up. It's been a while since I've read any of them, but I'm sure I'll get back to them some day. Meantime, I introduced my husband to them and he's now a big fan. I don't know if he's read this one yet. I'll have to mention it to him.

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    1. I think this one is to be published in a couple of weeks, Dorothy. I've held onto it for so long, I've forgotten the exact publication date.

      I like the characters that surround Quinn a lot, but I find his villains a little bit over the top sometimes, especially the father-son bad guys in this one, but once I get past that hurdle the books really take off for me.

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  3. I never read this author but for some reason it reminds me of a series I thought was pretty good (only read 2 or 3 so far). Paul Dorian's Mike Bowditch, Game Warden series - have you tried this author?

    https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Bowditch-Mysteries-12-book-series/dp/B074C6NVGD?ref=dbs_m_mng_rwt_0000_share

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    1. That's a new one for me, Diane. I'll have to take a look via the link because if it's anything like the Quinn Colson series, I'll probably like it. Thanks.

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  4. How have I never heard of this series or author? Apparently, I have been missing out! This book sounds so good. And yay, my library has multiple copies of it on order. :)

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    1. There are way too many to keep up with. This series seems to fly just a bit below the radar of series fans for some reason. I know a lot of people who absolutely love it, but just as many who have never heard of it. Like all of them, it pushes the envelope pretty far sometimes, but that's part of the fun.

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  5. It sounds like this author is working overtime, ha. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Ace Atkins has been one of my go-to crime fiction writers for a number of years now. The Parker estate made a wise decision when they chose him to continue the Spenser series. (I almost hate to say it, but I like the Atkins books in the series better than most of the ones written by Parker.)

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