May was quite a month for Ace Atkins. The beginning saw his first Spenser novel, LULLABY, and the end saw the second installment in his Quinn Colson series. I reviewed both for Shelf Awareness, and I'm reprinting my review of THE LOST ONES today with their permission.
In Ace Atkins’ first book of the Quinn Colson series, the Army Ranger, home on leave, exposed a corruption ring responsible for the death of his uncle, the small town’s sheriff. Now Colson finds himself out of the Army and in the sheriff’s uniform when the suspicious death of a foster child leads him straight into a hornet’s nest of illegal activity, including running guns and selling children.
Despite Atkins’ dark subject matter, he manages to weave an exceptional sense of humor into this series. From Colson’s wise-cracking chief deputy, Lillie Virgil, to the often humorous conflict Colson himself encounters when he has to observe the county law as opposed to war-time protocol, there’s an easiness in the tone that balances the ugliness of the crimes.
Atkins’ secondary characters rival Colson in their depth and complexity. Caddy, Colson’s sister, returns to play a prominent role in this second novel, revealing more of the Colson family history. And Atkins seems to be setting Colson’s disabled veteran buddy, Boom, up to see substantial face time in coming series installments. All of the characters have their dysfunctions, but the weaknesses of one fit nicely with the strengths of the others, creating a cast of essential characters rather than one standout.
As the various elements of the plot weave together, the significance of the title grows. In some way we’re all lost and that common thread will allow readers to connect with the novel on an intimate, personal level.
Following up an Edgar-nominated novel can be a challenging task. With The Lost Ones, Ace Atkins makes it look easy.
The Lost Ones is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780399158766) from Putnam. It's also available on audio from Audible, narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Jeff Woodman.