Thursday, August 18, 2011



          "The Ranger" heralds a new series by best-selling author Ace Atkins.  It takes place in contemporary Northern Mississippi, an area Ace lives in and therefore knows very well. The book is very much a classic "Western" in modern dress.  Quinn Colson, an army ranger, fresh from six years in Afghanistan and Iraq, is coming home to Jericho.  On leave between assignments he arrives home to find his uncle, the towns sheriff, dead in an apparent suicide.  Not only that but the town seems to be in a downward spiral of meth use and development funny-business.  With the often hesitant aid of an old girlfriend, now a deputy on the local police force, Quinn begins the dangerous task of getting to the bottom of his uncle's death and cleaning up the town.

          Besides the compelling relationship between Quinn and Lillie Virgil, the deputy, the book is rife with colorful Southern characters.  Atkins strength has always been his ability to bring his settings to life and deliver "pulse of place" to his readers.  Tibbehah county comes alive under Atkins pen and is as much a character in the book as the humans are.  The pace is quick, the action non-stop, and the western vibe shimmers above it all.  I look forward to the next chapter in Quinn Colson's life.

          Ace Atkins started on  his road to fame as a star football player for Auburn University.  His team won a national title and Ace was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Not many writers can lay that  claim.  Rather than try the NFL Ace became a newspaper reporter which led to his becoming a novelist.  His first series, featuring Nick Travers, combined music, mystery, and the Deep South.  Ace followed that up with four outstanding crime novels.  These books covering Phenix City, Tampa, The Fatty Arbuckle  trial, and Machine Kelly stand as unique and superb historical fiction.  Each book is beautifully rendered with Ace's ability to evoke both character and setting in a way that makes the reader feel he is there.  In particular I found "White Shadow", about organized crime in Tampa, Florida masterfully executed.  In "Devil's Garden", the story of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, we see the action through the eyes of Dashiell  Hammett; a unique perspective indeed.

          As a youngster Ace's literary hero was Robert Parker.  Oddly Parker's nickname was "Ace".  And in a final and fortuitous chain of events Ace has been chosen by the Parker family to continue the "Spenser" series.  Look for the first new Atkin's penned "Spenser" later this year.

          We wish Ace good luck with the new challenge and while he hopefully reaps monetary rewards, we his readers, now reap literary rewards by having two series to look forward to.

                                              STEVE SHADOW SCHWARTZ

Browse available Ace Atkins titles at (click here)
Find out more about Ace at

No comments:

Post a Comment