The Ranger by Ace Atkins

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What the blurb says:

Northeast Mississippi is hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as they were in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, just back from a tour of Afghanistan, it’s home. But home has changed.

Quinn returns to a place overrun by corruption. His uncle, the county sheriff, is dead – officially it was suicide, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson, now an Army Ranger, to discover the truth – not only about his uncle, but also about his family, friends, hometown and himself.

Quinn Colson, what a gent. I think that Jack Reacher may have finally found a decent competitor. And they have their similarities, the army affiliations, the silent-but-sturdy type and that hot-dang animal magnetism; but Quinn is the new kid on the block, a little fresher and a little less dog-eared.

His story is one of growth, having returned from the army, he seems an outsider in the world in which he grew up. There’s the ex-girlfriend, now married, the mother, now with the sister’s child in tow, and his old buddies. It’s a frightful mix of no-one to trust, because double crosses are rife in Mississippi.

I loved the setting of this novel. ‘Redneck noir’ is my favourite description of the book. It always seems that small-town America gets a bad rep in novels and to be honest, this book doesn’t really showcase any different, but it gives a truthful perspective as our protagonist, Quinn, has grown up there, moved away and been dragged back by a family death. Mississippi, comes across as a collage of trailer parks, meth labs and truck stops.

Quinn’s is not the only story, however, that we follow in The Ranger. We also follow a sixteen year old pregnant girl whose main reason for existing appears to be attracting trouble. As she goes off in search of her baby-daddy, she lands in the heart of corruption and at the hands of some pretty nasty characters.

As Quinn unravels the mysteries surrounding his uncles death, the plot-lines draw closer together and the answers cause some violent show-downs. My only complaint about the novel is the lack of romantic interaction for Quinn. Although the police officer offers a tempting character, their relationship doesn’t quite tread the line of unbearable tension. Subtle hints are not always enough.

Truthful, fast-paced and gripping. Mr Atkins, bring on the next book please.

4/5

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