Ace Atkins spent the first ten books of his Quinn Colson series meticulously building up a Walking Tall-like story, parsing out a mythos of fictional Tibbehah County and developing the characters. He dialed it up to a boil in book ten, with big payoffs. Although the stakes are still high for this one, it feels like the beginning of a denouement.
Yeah there’s still some background as a player from the past comes back to haunt things in the troubled corner of northern Mississippi. But beyond that, this is more of a Case of the Week kind of tale, meaning to bide time while Atkins figures out what he wants to do with the rest of Quinn’s narrative. It’s fun, if overly familiar, apparently based on a true story that Atkins covered while a reporter with the Tampa Tribune. You know the beats by now if you’ve kept up with it but it’s still enjoyable.
The real question when you’re done with it all is: what is Atkins going to do now? He’s trying to reset his Big Bad but that just feels like a rerun of earlier novels. He doesn’t have any other place for Quinn to go, save fatherhood. He’s written about how he wants to do more with Lillie but I think he misses his chance to expand her arc here. He can keep churning these out for the next decade and I’ll be fine. They’re fun and gripping. But I’d like to see him take them to the next level sooner or later, or to a different place altogether.