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The Shameless: A Quinn Colson Novel


The Shameless: A Quinn Colson Novel

Ace Atkins certainly knows how to wring stories out of a relatively small piece of geography. His newly published THE SHAMELESS is the ninth installment in his series of Quinn Colson novels. While a bit more of a slow boil than the works preceding it, the narrative’s more deliberate pacing is balanced by his frequent flashes of prose brilliance and the final few chapters of the book, where the dominoes that had been painstakingly set up are explosively knocked down to great effect.

Colson is a former Army Ranger who returned to his birthplace of rural Tibbehah County, Mississippi, to ultimately become the county sheriff. His method of law enforcement could be best summed up by the term “choose your battles,” a strategy that has played out well over the course of the series. THE SHAMELESS is as much a story of the past as it is of the present.

"There is a bit of irony here that is worth the price of admission all by itself, as well as a cast of characters you will not soon forget."

Things begin moving when two podcast reporters from New York descend like springtime bats into Tibbehah County with the intent of investigating the death of a teenager that occurred there over two decades ago. The deceased, Brandon Taylor, was thought to have committed suicide after becoming lost in the woods. As is the case in many small towns where people tend to sink roots and stay, the connective ley lines between the past and present run deep and long. Colson’s uncle was the sheriff at the time of Taylor’s death and ruled his passing a suicide. Just a few years older than the victim at the time, Colson is currently married to Taylor’s high school sweetheart. The reporters want to take a fresh look at the evidence, but time and circumstance seem to have scattered it, as well as the case files.

Colson exhibits indifference, but it’s due primarily to the fact that a case decades old, and apparently resolved, is less important than the concerns of the present, which involve a crime syndicate in the county that is poised to capture the state governor’s office through its surrogate candidate. Everyone is jockeying for position, including old antagonists of Colson and even a couple of former friendly enemies. The reporters keep pressing, though, and as an indirect result of their efforts, Colson unearths some evidence that has the potential to cast doubt on what appears to be the foregone conclusion of the state’s election for its next governor.

Given that Colson has long been a thorn in the side of Mississippi’s organized crime in Tibbehah County and beyond, the decision is made --- from more than one source --- that things would function more effectively if he was taken off the rural radar. This isn’t the first time that efforts have been made to put Colson under the soil of the hometown he loves so much. However, it may be the last. You will have to read until almost the final page to find out, but you’ll enjoy the scenery along the way.

You won’t be able to read the last quarter or so of THE SHAMELESS fast enough. There is a bit of irony here that is worth the price of admission all by itself, as well as a cast of characters you will not soon forget. Some of them even make it to the end of the book. Knowing that they are out there somewhere will keep you waiting impatiently to see what happens next. The only certainty is that, with Atkins at the helm, you will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 12, 2019

The Shameless: A Quinn Colson Novel
by Ace Atkins

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525539476
  • ISBN-13: 9780525539476