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Saturday 5 September 2015

‘The Forsaken’ by Ace Atkins

Published by Corsair,
7 May 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-1427-3

The Quinn Colson series portrays the Deep South in all its dusty, dirty, hardscrabble reality.  Racial tension is ever-present.  So is sleaze and vice, with shady characters, especially Johnny Stagg, out to make big bucks from the area's natural resources pitted against Sheriff Colson's rigid incorruptibility. 
The story concentrates on events of thirty-seven years ago, when two young girls were abducted, raped and, in one case, murdered.  The town rose up against the crime, the man responsible was discovered, tortured and lynched.  Rough justice, but justice all the same.  Except the girl who survived, Diane Krull, saw the man who raped her out and about two or three weeks later.  When she tried to say so, nobody wanted to listen. 

Even though thirty-seven years have passed, Quinn Colson needs to set things right.  Especially with the return to town of a vicious biker called Chains LeDoux, who was involved in the lynching, newly released from twenty years behind bars, and now thirsting for revenge. 
Quinn's father, Jason, was a Hollywood stunt man, back in the day, and for a short while rode with LeDoux and his gang of bikers.  To avoid being implicated in the lynching by his unyielding son, he is able to give Colson some necessary information, the first paternal guidance he has produced since he left Colson's mother Jean many years ago. 

Although all the Atkins books stand alone, each one is an episode in an on-going story.  So as well as the uncovering and resolution of a crime, this is a plot which is not only an intriguing story, but also a compelling instalment in Quinn's personal life.  A special delight is Lillie Virgil, his chief deputy, with a mouth like a sewer and an ever-ready gun.  Among other plot-twists and turns, both she and Quinn find themselves facing a murder charge based on an incident in the previous book.

No-one captures rural Mississippi the way Atkins does, still blighted as it is by poverty and corruption.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Ace Atkins is an experienced crime writer with several stand alones, a series about Nick Travers and his Quinn Coulson series which he continues to write. He has already published the Spenser Lullaby and is writing more Spensers. In an interview in 2013 he explained that he couldn't write the Coulson and Spenser books at the same time - he writes the two series separately allowing half a year for each!

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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