Book Review: The Forsaken by Ace Atkins

December 28, 2018 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: The Forsaken by Ace Atkins

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Forsaken by Ace Atkins
Genres: Action Thriller
on July 24, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: The Ranger, The Lost Ones, The Broken Places

Fourth in the Quinn Colson action thriller series and revolving around a good sheriff in a town ruled by a corrupt council, in Jericho, Mississippi.

My Take

This story was slow to start with a slow lead-up. It wasn’t until the start of chapter eighteen that this story’s conflict finally shows up. Even then, Atkins keeps moving the story so slowly, dribbling out little hints here and there, using a third person global subjective point-of-view, mostly from Quinn’s perspective, but we do hear Stagg plotting and planning, Diane’s and Stillwell’s thoughts, Royce’s frustration, and a few others.

It is a pip of a story and does cover a lot of ground from why Jason left Jericho to the truth of the rape and murder back in 1977 to the conflict between the Born Losers and Johnny Stagg. It’s also so full of frame-ups, betrayals, and the hypocrisy of that county board, Stagg, and the DA’s office in Oxford…*shaking her head*…

Ya gotta give it to Stagg, makin’ himself look like a real philanthropist, buying out people’s destroyed shops even as he’s about to profit from potential new buyers for the same.

Hmmm, wonder if this is a foreshadowing when Lillie mentions how much she hates Tibbehah County and Quinn’s wanting to quit once this particular mess is cleared up…and then he learns the truth about why Jason left Jericho for good. I mean, whoaaa… Ya know, Jason was a jerk, but Jean has culpability in this as well.

I do enjoy the down-home atmosphere Atkins weaves as characters gather to talk, fight, and eat….mmmm, that cookin’ sounds downright tasty! Atkins adds more color with that advice Quinn gives to Jason that backfires, but I reckon it was still good advice. There’s a good bit in here about the various Hollywood projects Jason worked and the tales he wove in about shooting Smokey and the Bandit and the stars he dated. There’s quite a bit of personal reflection as well, as different characters absorb how life has hit them, changed them, and how it alters their perspectives on the past.

It is a good story, just so dang slow, and there are some decent people in Jericho, ya just gotta dig to find ’em. It sure helps at the very end when it appears that one of those bad guys may be of use.

The Story

It’s a Tibbehah Miracle is what that tornado was. The town looks set to be booming with new factories coming in, grants to repair buildings and downtown, and new restaurants moving in.

As for that investigation into the whys of Quinn and Lillie killing all those people at the exchange point, why it’s only getting worse for them and looking like murder charges…making Stagg happier than, well, you know… He’s aimin’ to get Quinn Colson in the palm of his hand…much like he had his uncle Hamp.

The Characters

Sheriff Quinn Colson is still new on the job after having quit the Army Rangers. Hondo is his cattle dog. His once bad-girl sister, Caddy, is keeping on with The River Ministry Jamey Dixon started up, crediting Jamey for her turning her life around. Jason is her biracial five-year-old son who adores his uncle Quinn and thinks of himself as an animal protector and rescuer. The black, one-armed Boom Kimbrough, Quinn’s best friend forever, had been with the Mississippi National Guard, and now works as the county mechanic. Since the tornado swept through, Caddy, Jason, and his momma, Jean Colson, have been living with Quinn at Uncle Hamp’s farmhouse.

Their daddy, Jason Colson, had been a stuntman in Hollywood and had worked on Burt Reynolds’ films, Dukes of Hazzard, the A-Team, MacGyver, and more. These days, he’s working at a horse farm in Pocahontas, Hinds County. Van, the current train engineer for the children’s train at the mall, and Jerry, a long-haul truck driver, are Jason’s brothers. Aunt Dot is married to Jerry.

Ophelia Bundren is Quinn’s girl, runs the Bundren Funeral Home, and fills in as the county’s coroner. Darnel Brant is lookin’ to be a client soon. Miss Nelson‘s husband thought it was the best she’d ever looked.

Tibbehah County Sheriff’s Department
Chief Deputy Lillie Virgil, a former star of the Ole Miss Rifle Team, is Quinn’s second-in-command. Mary Alice has been working at the office for over twenty years. More deputies include Kenny, Dave Cullison, Art Watts, and Ike Caslin.

Rose is the Mexican child Lillie adopted in The Lost Ones, 2.

Diane Tull, part Cherokee, is all grown up now, two marriages behind her and teenage sons, Patrick and David, with her. Her mother, Alma, had married Shed Castle who owned Jericho Farm & Ranch, which Diane inherited. A good singer, Diane is with a local band, Outlaw, that performs at the Southern Star and The River. J.T., the local muffler man, plays bass, and Wallace plays drums.

Hank Stillwell, a.k.a., Pig Pen or Red, had been Lori’s dad, riding with the Born Losers at the time. He’d been in ‘Nam too, with the 101st Airborne, 506th Regiment, at Hamburger Hill.

W.R. “Sonny” Stevens is a first rate lawyer who’s usually drunk. He’s defending Quinn and Lillie against murder charges (The Broken Places, 3). Mr Jim runs the barbershop, and Luther Varner is the owner of Varner’s Quick Mart where Miss Peaches works; both men were Hamp’s friends and are now Quinn’s supporters. Donnie Varner is Luther’s son who got into trouble in The Lost Ones, 2. Chip is the bartender at the Southern Star. Pap’s is one of the local restaurants, as is the Fillin’ Station diner where Mary, Hamp’s old girlfriend, works as a waitress. Anna Lee, Quinn’s high school girlfriend, is married to Dr Luke Stevens. Spam is the owner and chief bartender of Club Disco 9000 in Sugar Ditch where Boom used to drink. Pastor Shelton Graves is the preacher at Primitive Baptist Church. Clay Sneed is a real estate broker…and kinda dumb.

Miss Thomas is missing a TV and some personal things. Mr Davis‘ zero-turn Toro was stolen. Chester is in a feud with Miss Doris who owns the florist shop. Missy Hayes found all her things tossed out of the house she rents from her uncle Levi Sims.

Jay Bartlett is the mayor. Yep, his daddy had been the previous mayor. Men who stand for what people want to hear. E.J. Royce retired from being a deputy; now he enjoys life with a pack of coon dogs…and hassling Diane. That “good ol’ boy” just doesn’t get that times have changed. Hal Strange is another deputy from the 1970s who retired.

Johnny Stagg is hypocritical scum born of a manure salesman, claiming to be a Christian while running a strip joint/whorehouse, buying off politicians and cops, moving drugs, essentially running most of Tibbehah County. He also owns the Rebel, a Christian truck stop next door to the Booby Trap. Some idiots just made him a deacon at First Baptist. His current bodyguard is Ringold, former Special Forces and a Blackwater operator. The Trooper is Stagg’s go-to assassin, who also happens to work for the state troopers. Gotta wonder if he ain’t that state trooper captain.

Wade Mize is the president of the chamber of commerce. His mother, Betty Jo Mize, runs and owns the Tibbehah Monitor. Senator Vardaman has a hunting lodge in the area where Willie James Jones works when he’s not at the Rebel. Mr Dupuy, a former pimp and car thief, owns most of the houses in Sugar Ditch, an old black slum, and is on the county board, representing District 4. His predecessor (before Dupuy’s daddy) was a nasty white man, Bertrand Sinclair. The dimwitted Chuck McDougal, who represents District 3, whose daddy had been the biggest crook around, is planning to take Quinn down. Sam Bishop, Jr, and Bobby Pickens (District 5) are still decent.

Bobby Campo is in prison. Stagg’s new contact in Memphis is Craig Houston, a boy who raised himself up from a housing project, who sells.

Police Chief Leonard Chappelle was a lousy cop and Stagg’s stooge. Esau Davis was an escaped con wanting his money.

Oxford, Mississippi
Dale Childress is the DA’s investigator. Trey Wilbanks is the assistant district attorney.

The Born Losers Motorcycle Club is/was…
…led by Chains LeDoux, who is about to be released from Brushy Mountain federal penitentiary, and is the club president who had been through three tours with the Marines in ‘Nam. Based at Choctaw Lake, the gang includes Big Doug (sergeant-at-arms) and his old lady, Long Tall Sally; Deke was the club treasurer; Gangrene was the enforcer and worked at J.T’s body shop; Animal, a.k.a., Chester Anthony DiFranco; Slow Joe; and, Frank Miller.

Debbie, married now, had been Chains’ old lady. The Outlaws are a rival gang.

Pocahontas
Mr Birdsong rents trailers. Jason is keeping himself clean, paid off the men from Jackson. Darlene is the woman he’d been living with.

Summer 1977
Jimmy had been Diane’s cheating boyfriend back then. Diane Tull was seventeen back then with a father who was a Pentecostal minister. Fourteen-year-old Lori Stillwell, embarrassed by her deadbeat dad, is Diane’s friend. Echo is the black man they strung up.

Deputy E.J. Royce was there at the time. Doc Stevens and Judge Blanton offered rewards. The sneaky Ben Bartlett had been mayor. Jason Colson had joined up with Hal Needham on a film, dated Adrienne Barbeau and Suzanne Somers, and thought of Jean Beckett, sister of the then sheriff, Hamp Beckett. Darlene Stillwell had been Pig Pen’s youngest sister.

Carl Rose had been a bully in school. Quinn and Ringold had both known Ricardo Perez from Ft Bragg. Bandit had been a palomino that Jason owned.

The Cover and Title

The cover is muted deep blues with the silhouette of a bare-branched tree upfront and a murky landscape beyond it, the moon glowing from behind the clouds. The info blurb at the top with the embossed author’s name immediately below it is in white. A testimonial is immediately below and right of the author’s name while the serial information is at the bottom left; both are in orange. The embossed title, spanning the tree, has the most interesting coloration with a horizontal gradation of white to a purplish blue.

The title is all about The Forsaken justice in Jericho and Tibbehah County.

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