- File Size: 1460 KB
- Print Length: 346 pages
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1 edition (June 9, 2011)
- Publication Date: June 9, 2011
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004XFYWTS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,810 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Ranger (A Quinn Colson Novel Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 346 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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“I have always been impressed with (jealous of) how easy Ace Atkins makes it look. The Ranger is by far his best work...I hope Quinn Colson and Lillie Virgil stick around for a good long time.”—Michael Connelly
“Atkins has written a bunch of great thrillers, but this one sets up a series that should push him to the top of the bestseller list.”—John Sandford
“Goes for extreme thrills, complemented by in-depth character studies and a view to the motives that turn ordinary people corrupt. Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Greg Iles's Penn Cage will find a kindred spirit in U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson, Atkins's new take-charge hero.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“A dark, headlong crime story set in the Mississippi hill country and teeming with corrupt officials, murderous meth dealers and Southern femmes fatales.”—St. Petersburg Times
“Southern-fried noir.”—The Washington Post
“Has the down-and-dirty vibe of a ’70s drive-in action picture.”—Dallas Morning News
“[His] estimable ranger may bring to mind Lee Child’s hard fisted, soft hearted Jack Reacher, which is entirely a good thing.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Give this one to Stephen Hunter fans who like fast-moving plots and decisive good guys facing down evil.”—Library Journal
“Atkins kicks off a new series with a solid action packed yarn...Greg Iles fans will find much to like.”—Publishers Weekly
More Praise For Ace Atkins’s Quinn Colson Series
“In Quinn Colson, bestselling author Ace Atkins has created an American hero in a time when we need him.”—C. J. Box
“Ace Atkins’s Quinn Colson series is, quite simply, the best in crime fiction today—and also so much more. With a rich cast of characters, and a hero we can count on, these are tales of morality and desperation, of shocking violence and the enduring resilience of family and community. And the emotional places they take us make them unforgettable.”—Megan Abbott
“Quinn Colson is my kind of guy. I would follow him anywhere.”—Lee Child
“Atkins finds his natural-born storytellers everywhere. It’s all music to these ears.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
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But I do read the Wall Street Journal, and I saw an intriguing piece that described William Faulkner's having served Four Roses whiskey (the long-gone American Blended Whiskey variety of the 1950s, rot gut of the worst kind, legendary in a bad away, the butt of jokes everywhere, and not the excellent Four Roses bourbon that is on the shelves today) to his guests, while pouring for himself from a bottle of Jack Daniels. The old fox.
The writer of the piece was a man named Ace Atkins. I looked him up.
Ace is a former Tampa, FL crime reporter who now lives on a farm outside of Oxford, MS, which was Faulkner's home. He writes novels. The reviews are generally pretty good. One that caught my eye is called The Ranger. It is the first of several books he has written about a character called Quinn Colson.
I downloaded it onto the Kindle and started reading. I am not an accomplished book reviewer, but I'll share my impressions with you.
I'll save that until last. The book is good. Why I think so: it is exciting.
There is a perhaps just little too much detail in some places in the beginning, and it can slow down the reader. I really didn't need to know that the Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix is down at the end of Aisle 8 at the Piggly Wiggly. Maybe that's the crime reporter in the author coming through.
But that effectively ceases to be an issue at all, once the stage has been set and the story starts to unfold. At that point, the reader will be engulfed in it.
Some passages--not many at all, really, but a few--are just a little too earthy for my taste. Ace is a whole lot younger than I am. But I would not recommend against the book for that reason.
A Short Review
The story is set in the modern American South, in a fictional county in the rural area of Mississippi along the state highways that run near and through Oxford. The protagonist is a US Army soldier who has returned home for a funeral.
A rather shallow review in a major Eastern newspaper described the book as part of a genre that the reviewer called "redneck noir". Indeed, Atkins has said that five Southern movies heavily influenced the Quinn Colson books. They are Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, White Lightning, Thunder Road, and Walking Tall. Of those, I have only seen Thunder Road.
However, I think that The Ranger is much better described as a Western novel, transplanted in time and place.
Sixty years ago, my maternal grandfather in Itta Bena, MS liked to end the day by reading paperback Western novels, such as the works of Zane Grey, before going to sleep. The "good guys" were bigger than life, and they "commanded the stage", as it were. They bravely set things right against the forces of evil by force of character, toughness, and if necessary, by drawing the "big irons" on their hips. They rode magnificent horses. The hand-drawn cover illustrations showed wonderful dry, colorful, and picturesque Western ranches and mountain settings that made one imagine going there. At the time, I was reading comic books about the Masked Man and the other western good guys.
Quinn Colson is the same kind of man as the fictional heroes in those novels and the movies of the 1950s. He returns home not from the Civil War, but from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that he is tough, because he has served as an Army Ranger. Of course, "Ranger" fits the Western theme. He has a big but more modern revolver, and instead of riding a horse, he drives an aging Ford F-150 pickup truck. He doesn't sing as he rides, like Gene Autry, but he does listen to Country Western music on the radio as he drives. He isn't followed around by a deputy with a limp, but he is helped by an able partner who is missing an arm. And unlike any of the westerns of old, his partner is African American, and the tough deputy sheriff with whom he teams, female.
The setting is suited to the story in its own away, but unlike those in the westerns, the descriptions do not evoke nostalgia for the old frontier. Descriptions of dilapidated places in a badly depressed area populated by dangerous meth addicts and hate-filled white supremacists will not make many people fantasize about going there.
I think the local color is well portrayed, but I have to take into account that decades ago I spent some summers in nearby counties, and my impressions are formed by a combination of what Atkins describes today and what I remember about the way things were. And things have changed--not much is the same at all.
The bad guys are bad--really bad. One would certainly avoid them. They are today's villains, and they run the gamut from the explosively violent meth addict to the evil, corrupt business man. In place of the black hats and the sadistic expressions of squinting gunmen hired by evil cattle barons, there are the tattoos and the skinheads of people who are even meaner. In place of fictional renegade Indians who won't stay on the reservation, we meet survivalists who resent the Government. There are cattle rustlers, but they use motorized vehicles and do their work in the darkness of night.
The interactions among people are described realistically, and the conversations are not contrived.
The action sequences are riveting, and frankly, much more realistic than what was portrayed in High Noon.
The plot of The Ranger is well crafted, and that's what made it hard for me to put down. It is much more complex than those of the morality play genre such as High Noon. The evil perpetrated by the "bad guys" insinuates itself against more victims in more ways than one sees in the classic Western, requiring Colson and the deputy to solve a multifaceted and interwoven mystery.
I'm not sure how one would going about writing a coherent screenplay for the story, but one can readily imagine Tom Selleck playing the part of Quinn Colson.
I do recommend The Ranger.
FYI: the dog Hondo is not killed.
Interesting storyline with descriptive writing that draws the reader into both the scenes and emotions of the characters. Plenty of twists, surprise ending. Not all questions are answered.
The characters are believable with distinct personalities.
The realistic dialogue is thought-provoking, informative and snarky.
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. —G . K . CHESTERTON
Don’t ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed. —ROGERS’ RANGERS STANDING ORDER No. 11
'After a point, you have to give up on some people. People wear their own paths.'
'...tuned to an infomercial about a religious enema called the Almighty Cleanse.'
'Wouldn’t that be something if you could just sh@@ out your problems? Damn, I’d be on the toilet for a week.'
'He’d learned to appreciate strong coffee out on maneuvers, grounds and all, and wished he had some now. But sometimes coffee is just warm company, especially when it’s cold with the heater off in your truck, and he sat there in a dark...'
“Only religion I found gets counted at the church.”
I will re-read this story and always look forward to works by this author.
The Ranger is exactly like Jack Reacher... except for a compelling story, action and the ability to keep the reader fully engaged.
Quinn is an Army Ranger, home from combat duty in Afghanistan. He came to attend his Uncle's funeral. His uncle being the Sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi. Folks say he took his own life. Quinn thinks he was murdered. Who would kill the Sheriff? There's plenty of suspects. The leader of a band of skinheads who cook meth to fund their little end of times cult, the minister of the church housed in the empty movie theater who handles the cash for the skinheads, or the County Supervisor who is a shady wheeler-dealer with big plans but no money of his own?
Quinn sets out to find the killer but runs into so many crooked leads that he can't make heads or tails. All he knows is that he's willing to die to avenge his Uncle.
This is really a pretty decent book, but not on a level with Lee Child's offerings. The story starts very slowly while giving the reader a LOT of backstory. The characters are what you'd find in a rural county with a depressed economy. A county where the only ones hanging on are the elderly and the devoted. The way the aged good ol' boys are described, makes sure the reader can smell the burbon, cigars and Musterol.
Quinn begins to make some headway when he encounters his old school friend, Deputy Lillie Virgil. Quinn and Lillie cruise the back roads and turn up leads and clues until a very bad picture begins to develop. Can Quinn and Lillie take down the corruption that's been in place for forty years?
The book is quite well written, if a bit lethargic for the first two thirds of the story as the clues add up. If you don't mind the glacier-like pace, you'll enjoy this tale.
Top international reviews
I can't believe I finished its three hundred and fifty-three pages since, apart from one brief tussle, the action only began on page two hundred and forty-five. Up to that point I'm not really sure what, if anything, was going on. It all seemed like a series of disjointed events involving a collection of shallow, one dimensional people , red herrings and the eponymous 'Ranger' of the title. He wasn't much better - a taciturn redneck with a thin veneer of civilised behaviors and attitudes.
As always, I repeat that I detest negative reviews which fail to offer the reader any alternatives so I'll say this: if you want to read some writers that Mr Atkins might aspire to emulate, look no further than Donald E Westlake's Dortmunder novels, Don Winslow's surfer dude detective and any of the sublimely talented Joe R. Lansdale's creations.
Whatever you do though, avoid this. I certainly won't be purchasing any more of Mr Atkins dross - even Lee Child and the unlikely Jack Reacher is better.
I see that The Ranger is the first in a series of five (thus far) - so maybe they do get better. Personally, on the strength of this one, I'll be avoiding any further instalments.
I was introduced to some great characters and to the state of Mississippi where an interesting story was unfolded.
A good read that has left me with the intention of following Quinn Colson's, his co-characters and their exploits in the other books of this series.
That said, really interesting to see a part of US life that doesn't get an airing in the UK. Interesting characters and believable family interactions. Liked it a lot and not at all a Jack Reacher rip off.
Looking forward to reading more from him.
Parker would be proud.
An enjoyable first novel which twists and turns towards the bloody conclusion. Interesting support characters help give the book depth. I'll be reading the next in the series