The Ranger by Ace Atkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When his uncle, the county sheriff, eats a gun, Quinn Colson comes home to Tibbehah County, Mississippi, for the funeral. Turns out his home town is a cesspool and the chief turds are Johnny Stagg, a county official, and Gowrie, a meth-dealing white supremicist. Will Colson be able to clean up his home town?
I've read a couple of Ace Atkins' Spenser books and liked them quite a bit. Some guy has been telling me for years how good they are. He was right yet again.
The words are different but the song sounds familiar. Guy comes back to his home town, finds out the shitbags have taken over, and runs the bad guys out of town. Ace Atkins takes a staple of the western genre and shapes it into something all his own. Fortunately, Atkins makes hay with it.
Quinn Colson comes home and finds himself out of the loop, an outsider in his own back yard. The bad guys have a foothold and most of the town is ready to roll over for them. Quinn and his trusted circle of allies have an uphill battle ahead of them in the form of crooked politicians, crooked judges, crooked cops, and meth dealing white supremicists.
For a book with all of those volatile ingredients simmering in the stew pot, The Ranger is a surprisingly slow burner. It takes a while for all the pins to get set up. While things are simmering, Atkins explores small town life in the south, painting a bleak picture of what things are like in small towns once the money starts drying up. Quinn deals with his mother, his sister, and his old flame.
The ending was everything I hoped it would be, a southern fried version of the fight at the OK Corral. While it stood well on its own, it left me wanting more of Quinn Colson dealing with shitheels in his home town. I don't really have anything bad to say about The Ranger. Quinn was capable without being a super hero and the supporting cast Atkins has crafted has a few books in it easily.
The Ranger was a fun thriller and a fascinating look at life in rural Mississippi. I guess I'm in for the whole series now. Four out of five stars.
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