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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Innocents

Quinn Colson #6

ISBN: 9780399173950

Publisher: Penguin/Putnam

Publication Date: 7/12/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars From New York Times-bestselling Southern crime master Ace Atkins comes a gritty, darkly comic tale of greed, violence, and unexpected redemption. Quinn Colson didn't owe his home town of Jericho, Mississippi, a damn thing. After serving for more than a decade as a U.S. Army Ranger, he'd returned, been elected sheriff, and tried to make the town and surrounding Tibbehah county a better place. He was rewarded with being voted out of office, and went back to the war zone he'd left.

Now, back in Jericho, trying to fix things with his still-married high school girlfriend and retired Hollywood stuntman father, he's drawn to becoming a lawman again. This time, he accepts a badge from acting Sheriff Lillie Virgil, a foul-mouthed law woman with shades of Calamity Jane. But what they must confront together is something brand-new.

When a former high school cheerleader is found walking a back road completely engulfed in flames, the entire state focuses on the rural county, wanting answers. The light soon shines on several people: the girl's father, a worthless drunk named Wash Jones; a pair of teenage thugs with grand ambitions to control north Mississippi; and a red-headed truck stop madam named Fannie Hathcock, who has her own problems – the Syndicate from down on the Gulf Coast has big plans for her neck of the woods.

As Quinn and Lillie uncover old secrets and new lies, the entire town turns against them, and they learn the most dangerous enemies may be the ones you trust most.

Ace Atkins “sets a new standard for Southern crime fiction,” writes The New York Times Book Review– and, with The Innocents, he sets it again.

My Review

A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ace Atkins returns following The Redeemers (2015) to the Deep South with popular dark and gritty Quinn Colson #6 series THE INNOCENTS -highly controversial with an array of violent crimes exposed, in the underbelly of Jericho, Mississippi, Tibbehah County. Does anyone ever escape Mississippi? Working with Lillie Virgil, the first woman sheriff in the state, Quinn Colson and others sort through a web of intrigue and dark secrets, trying to bring justice to the town of Jericho. No easy task where there is more bad than good. After a stint in Afghanistan where he trained local police, complex war-hero Quinn Colson returns to his hometown to help his former colleague and becomes a deputy. Quinn Colson is still trying to work things out with his high school sweetheart, who’s taken her child and left her husband. Quinn’s father, Jason, a former Hollywood stuntman absent for most of his son's childhood, is back with a moneymaking land scheme that involves Johnnie Stagg, we met in the last book, now in prison. We also catch up with Fannie, a strip club owner, from meth addicts, drug dealers, dirty politics, a self-righteous preacher, Elvis lovers, motorcycle biker gangs, wine boxes, Wally World, truck stops, molestation, racism, football, drug pins, a young girl turned stripper set on fire, and a beloved high school football hero Coach Bud Miles with secrets… all from the Bible belt. Plus, a strained relationship between risk taker father, Jason and son, Quinn. There are several different plots, one being Milly Jones, local teenage, age eighteen, former cheerleader who writes in her journals. Secrets the town does not know. She wants her brother, Brandon’s suicide story told, making her way to Tupelo to meet an author, with high hopes. From her dad’s meth time in jail, her mom and dad’s divorce, and her dad’s fat girlfriend, plus all her other issues. This town has secrets. She has to get away, and thinks if she can get to Tupelo to this author, possibly her story can be told. However, the trip to Tupelo to see a Southern Christian Romance author, was useless, and all the author wanted was $30 for the book, and then there was gas money. Bummed by the disappointment, she makes her way back to the strip club (she has turned to in desperation for money) for her first night on the job at the Vienna Place Strip Club (former Booby Trap).. It is time for the pole. However, she is desperate, and does not want to part with the house cut of the money she earns, and needs to keep it all. She heads out, and would send back the money to Miss Fannie, when she gets back on her feet, talk to her dad about the threats, and get right with Ordeen on the pills to get crazy Reece off her case. She needed breathing room. As she drives away she wanted to see Joshua and heads North in her old Kia. However, she has car trouble. Twenty minutes later someone comes. She finds her way down the highway on foot, while engulfed in flames. Murdered. Burning flesh. The girl is dead. A murder that occurs in "The Innocents" has a number of similarities to that of Jessica Chambers. (2014) Fannie is not happy when Milly robbed her blind. Someone wanted to shut up the girl. She knew too much. Colson and his boss, Sheriff Lillie Virgil, follow leads that point to a pair of black teenagers, reheating racial tension in a state infamous for racial tension. But the teenage guys have learned the identity of the real killer — and plan to inflict an awful form of punishment. In the meantime, we have events surrounding the local coach also another related story: (Dwight Bowling, former Alabama high school coach in molestation case) and plenty of suspects in Milly’s murder, among all the other crimes and crazies. Everyone speculates, suspects, blame, lies, secrets.

Southern-Gothic noir-crime fiction gets "down and dirty" with corruption, murder, and more ruthless criminals than you can count. Based on real events, a fictional account of some horrific crimes in the Deep South which sends this installment to the "top of the charts." Eccentric well-developed characters to pitch perfect Southern wit, gritty dialogue, Atkins knows his way around the South. and crosses over to Memphis. With his true southern (Grit-Lit) and his continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser popular series, (Boston) he has proven once again a talented versatile author. From the atmosphere of Southern good, bad, and ugly, fans will enjoy his latest installment and dying for the next. From rural Mississippi, to gritty urban Boston something for everyone, no matter your taste. The Spenser books are detective, action packed with emphasis on character. Whereas this series is about Southern roots - family, social issues, corruption, power. In addition to the digital version, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Macleod Andrews delivering an engaging performance The Innocents,’ A Conversation with Ace Atkins by Mark Rubinstein Huffington Post.

Review Links:

Advance Praise

“In Quinn Colson, bestselling author Ace Atkins has created an American hero in a time when we need him.” —C. J. Box “Ace Atkins’s Quinn Colson series is, quite simply, the best in crime fiction today—and also so much more. With a rich cast of characters, and a hero we can count on, these are tales of morality and desperation, of shocking violence and the enduring resilience of family and community. And the emotional places they take us make them unforgettable.” —Megan Abbott “With terrific, inflected characters and a dark, subtle sense of place and history, these are exceptional novels.” —John Sandford “Quinn Colson is my kind of guy. I would follow him anywhere.” —Lee Child “Atkins finds his natural-born storytellers everywhere. It’s all music to these ears.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review “I will throw down against anyone who disagrees with the statement that Atkins is one of our best American writers. Period.” —

About the Author

Ace Adkins

Photo Credit: by Joe Worthem

Ace Atkins is the New York Times Bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Innocents and Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, both out from G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2016.

One of the best crime writers working today, Ace has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times, twice for novels about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player, Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines including Outside and Garden & Gun.

He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family, where he’s friend to many dogs and several bartenders. Read More






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