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The Sinners: A Quinn Colson Novel

Review

The Sinners: A Quinn Colson Novel

THE SINNERS hits all the high notes. This eighth installment in Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson series is gritty, funny, profane and riveting, often all at once. Colson is the high sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, and a favorite son (to some, though not everyone) of the town of Jericho, the county seat. The Colson family goes deep and wide into Jericho’s history, as do a number of families on both sides of the law. This generational conflict is one of the elements that gives the book its shine and tarnish in equal measure.

The story begins in June 1993 with Tibbehah County Sheriff (and Colson’s uncle) Hamp Beckett lying in wait to arrest Heath Pritchard, a notoriously slippery local drug dealer. The remainder of the novel takes place in the present, as Tyler and Cody Pritchard have taken over the family farm. The young men run a high-tech subterranean grow farm by day and use the profits to finance their true love, which is drag racing and the babe-magnet potential that goes with it. However, their somewhat shady lifestyle is thrown off balance when their Uncle Heath, newly released from prison after more than two decades, shows up at the farm with a load of expectations, desires and a dangerous, smoldering anger that leads to the death of a young man who was sent to gather information about the farm.

"THE SINNERS hits all the high notes. This eighth installment in Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson series is gritty, funny, profane and riveting, often all at once."

The efforts of the Pritchards to hide the body give them a lead of a few hours and reverberate throughout the book. Heath has a sense of entitlement that his nephews resent but acquiesce to, at least at first. In the meantime, he has his own ideas of how to grow the business in the territorial sense but is distracted when he all too quickly discovers the Rebel Truck Stop, which includes a strip club. Fannie Hathcock (never let it be said that Atkins lacks a sense of humor), the owner of the Rebel and a number of unofficial side businesses that go with it, has enough trouble of her own without Heath and the other Pritchards (however reluctantly) encroaching on her business, what with the crime syndicates and the like attempting to take over the quiet county.

It’s a heady stew that Atkins cooks up as alliances change and shift, while those involved discover that they really can’t trust anyone, which, of course, they already knew. And what of Colson? He is all set to marry Maggie Powers, but his job keeps looking like it’s going to get in the way. With his former deputy, Lillie Virgil, heading north --- to Memphis in search of other employment --- Colson has to rely on his less experienced deputies as well as his friend Boom and some other unofficially deputized acquaintances to maintain the peace, investigate that murder I mentioned before, and otherwise keep a lid on everything in the county before it all boils over. And boil over it does. Don’t be surprised if the book ends without a hitch.

Atkins really puts the reader in the moment here. It took me longer than it should have to read the book because I kept writing down long stretches of the dialogue. Sometimes I didn’t need to. Heath’s description of a stripper is one that I will carry with me until the day I die. You’ll know which one it is when you read it, and you’ll laugh so hard that you won’t be able to see. A good part of the book takes place in the Rebel, a place so gritty that you will want to bathe in hand sanitizer after reading about it (though I’m sure the details are culled from secondhand sources).

More is coming, for sure. Colson has made some powerful people quite unhappy. As the conclusion of THE SINNERS indicates, things in Jericho may change very quickly. Jump on this terrific series before they do.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 3, 2018

The Sinners: A Quinn Colson Novel
by Ace Atkins

  • Publication Date: July 17, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399576746
  • ISBN-13: 9780399576744