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The Ranger
Ace Atkins

May 2012 / ISBN: 978-0-425-24749-5

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson has done combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He hasn’t been home to the town of Jericho, Mississippi, in almost seven years, but he returns to attend the funeral of his uncle Hemp, the Tibbehah County Sheriff. The explanation is that the Sheriff committed suicide, but Quinn doesn’t like the smell of the story. Quinn is named the beneficiary of his uncle’s estate, and when he goes out to look the place over, he is met by a man with a shady past and a document declaring him as a lien holder on the property. The Ranger is determined to find out the whole story and immediately encounters resistance.

As Quinn reacquaints himself with the locals, he has to define who his friends are and more importantly, who his enemies are. It soon becomes apparent that, aside from his mother, his old army buddy, “Boom,” who had an arm blown off in Iraq, and a gutsy sheriff’s deputy named Lillie Virgil are two people that he can trust. He’s not too sure about anybody else.

The trail leads to a small encampment of white supremacists who earn their living by operating meth labs. Their presence raises more questions but offers no answers. The group seems to be involved in trying to drive Quinn from his inherited land, but that just doesn’t make sense. These guys don’t want land. Perhaps they’re shills for someone in the background. One thing is for sure, their leader, a man called Gowrie, is a vicious and dangerous fanatic. When the struggle begins, Quinn draws on his background as a hill country boy and his training as a highly skilled combat veteran, along with the courage and ability of his friend, Boom, and the quick thinking and relentless deputy, Lillie.

This is the first Ace Atkins novel that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I quickly discovered that Atkins has the makings of a master story teller. The voice is so clear, it’s as if you’re sitting next to him at a bar and he’s telling his tale from the heart. The dialogue is abrupt and choppy, just like real conversations. None of the characters are perfect, just like real people. And the story is excellent.

Reviews of other titles by this author

Dark End of the Street
Dirty South [review 1] [review 2] [review 3]

Reviewer & Columnist Dennis Collins is the author of Turn Left at September, The Unreal McCoy, The First Domino, and Nightmare
Reviewed 2012