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The Innocents: A Quinn Colson Novel


The Innocents: A Quinn Colson Novel

In a way, THE INNOCENTS hits the reset button on the Quinn Colson series. Author Ace Atkins does not share his considerable talents in half-measures. Looking back, the first five books in the Colson saga could be Part One, or Season One, if you will. It is so well executed that I wonder if Atkins had planned it that way all along. This latest installment introduces some interesting new characters, brings back a few long-running ones, and continues a couple of plot threads that have cropped up over the years while spinning out new trails to follow. The result is nothing short of riveting, a page turner that you will stay up all night to read.

"THE INNOCENTS is complete in itself, with an intriguing beginning, strong middle and satisfying ending that nonetheless opens the door to the next installment of the series."

Atkins’ method of moving things forward in THE INNOCENTS is simple yet ingenious. A year has passed since THE REDEEMERS, the most recent book in the series, was published. As the new volume opens, Quinn has just returned to his hometown of Jericho, Mississippi, from a stint in Afghanistan, where he has been working with the United States government and NATO to train the local police there. He finds that while some things have changed on the surface, the muddy criminal and social current that runs underneath Tibbehah County and Jericho --- and that was present during his tenure as sheriff --- is the same. While there is a new sheriff, the very capable Lillie Virgil, and a new owner of the local truck stop and striptease establishment, it’s almost as if Quinn never left. He picks up with his high school sweetheart --- married to, though separated from, someone else --- and his dad Jason, the famous movie stuntman, is up to his ears in new mischief: most of it legal, but just a bit of it questionable.

Atkins takes his time --- about a third of the book --- lining up his ducks, new and old, and each and every page is interesting as all get-out. When he lays the hammer down, however, he does so with authority, setting up a mystery that involves the grisly murder of a young woman who was leaving Jericho and its environs for good. There are all sorts of suspects, from a local dirtbag drug dealer to a motorcycle gang that is little more, collectively, than a waste of skin, and Quinn, who has been asked to rejoin the sheriff’s office on a temporary basis, has more than enough to sort out. Mystery aficionados may figure part out the “whodunit” aspect of THE INNOCENTS in short order, but it’s doubtful that they will get the entire picture or the “whydunit” element until Atkins reveals all.

Meanwhile, each page is peppered with plenty of colorful similes, metaphors and turns of phrase that are worth the price of admission all by themselves. Atkins can often tell a reader more in a sentence than many writers can in paragraphs. To note but one, there is an early vignette involving Quinn and his lover, where he conveys an erotic moment without being explicitly graphic. While capable of doing the latter, and doing it very well, Atkins is a master of description on all points of the continuum. I had to resist the temptation to take notes; I didn’t, of course, because I couldn’t stop reading.

THE INNOCENTS is complete in itself, with an intriguing beginning, strong middle and satisfying ending that nonetheless opens the door to the next installment of the series. While I inwardly groan at the thought of having to wait another year for more Quinn Colson, my feelings are balanced by the certainty that it will be worth it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 15, 2016

The Innocents: A Quinn Colson Novel
by Ace Atkins

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 039918547X
  • ISBN-13: 9780399185472